Premier League: Manchester City Pep Guardiola raises injury concerns ahead of restart; won't hold lockdown breaches against Kyle Walker
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is worried that Premier League players are risking injury by returning after an “incredible lack of preparation” and has no idea what to expect when his team plays Arsenal on Wednesday.
The top English clubs are resuming play after as little as three weeks of contact training following the lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
With City also involved in the FA Cup, Guardiola’s team is facing three games per week in an effort to finish the domestic season by 1 August. City could then be involved in an eight-team knockout bracket to complete the Champions League in mid-August, which would eat into the squad's preparation time for the 2020-21 season.
Guardiola said he does not know which players are ready to play at near their top-level when the league restarts and will have to rotate “absolutely all the players.”
“You ask me how is the team? I don’t know,” Guardiola said on a video call on Tuesday. “Tomorrow we will see the level of the team. … What we were worried is these three weeks, with incredible lack of preparation like other teams in the Premier League, is not like in Germany or Spain who had five or six weeks.
“You can play a game after three weeks of holidays but we were two weeks of holidays lying on the sofa, and that is why I think the players are not fully fit. But we have to start and finish the season so the damage economically to all the clubs can be reduced as much as possible.”
Guardiola was particularly affected by the pandemic because his mother died of COVID-19 in early April.
The opposition manager Guardiola will welcome to an empty Etihad Stadium on Wednesday — Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta — also contracted the virus in mid-March. That caused the suspension of the Premier League, which will end after 100 days.
Arteta was previously the assistant to Guardiola at City before joining Arsenal in December for his first senior managerial role.
“He knows secrets (about City) as much as I do,” Guardiola said. “He does not play and I do not play. This game belongs to the players.
“But of course, we know each other. He knows absolutely everything about us because we are the same what we are now as the moment he was here and he was an incredibly important part of our success in the last years. He helped us to be who we were and who we are.”
Guardiola said he will not hold Kyle Walker’s lockdown indiscretions against him when it comes to selecting a team to play Arsenal.
Walker apologized for hosting a party at his home during the lockdown. The England right back also said he was being “harassed” after acknowledging in a statement he breached lockdown rules to visit members of his family.
“I judge my players on what happens on the pitch,” Guardiola said. “Kyle made a brave statement about what happened and the club spoke with him.
“What I want is the best for him and especially his family, his wife, his kids, his parents. The human being always goes first before the football player.”
Premier League: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah links up with Egypt squad after missing World Cup qualifier against Angola
The association said in a brief statement that Liverpool’s Salah has joined the Egyptian team in preparing for Sunday’s game against Gabon in Franceville.
Rodrygo snatched victory for Real as he flicked in with a minute to play in Milan, stunning Inter who had dominated much of the game and forced Thibaut Courtois into several saves.
The Brazilian football association (CBF) confirmed that it had asked global governing body FIFA to invoke regulations that bar players for five days after an international break if they are not released by their clubs