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Guardiola: City not fit for intense schedule


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Guardiola: City not fit for intense schedule

LONDON • Pep Guardiola fears his Manchester City players are not ready for the gruelling demands of the Premier League restart.

The reigning champions host Arsenal today in the second game of the league’s return to action following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus. City play again on Monday when Burnley visit the Etihad Stadium and the pace does not drop until the planned end of the season in late July.

With teams given a short time to prepare for the return, the City manager is concerned his stars are not fully fit for such a hectic schedule.

“We are ready to play one game, but three days after another and four days after another, we are not ready,” he told reporters in a video press conference yesterday.

“We have to rotate and use all the players. You can play a game after three weeks on holiday but we spent two weeks on the sofa doing nothing much. That is why the players are not fully fit.”

He said the game against Arsenal would show him his players’ fitness level: “What we are worried about over the three weeks is the lack of preparation, not like in Germany or Spain, where they worked five or six weeks. We know it is not enough but it is what it is.”

Guardiola, whose mother Dolors Sala Carrio died at 82 after contracting Covid-19, did not sound especially enthusiastic about the league’s decision to return, but he acknowledged the need to minimise the financial fallout from the pandemic.

“That is why we have to finish the season. We have to limit the economic damage to the clubs,” he said. “It is what it is. Everyone suffered during this situation, personally and economically, and we have to adapt.

“The players are human. The health of the people is important but at the end, the Premier League, like in Spain, decided we have to play and we are going to play.”

City will welcome back his former assistant Mikel Arteta for the first time since he took charge of Arsenal in December.

“We are delighted he will come back, especially if he is happy there. We sent a message about an hour and a half ago,” Guardiola said. “It was about the wine we are going to drink after the game if social distance allows.”

While the traditional post-game drink between managers looks set to remain, few other things will remain the same. Matches will be played behind closed doors and twice-weekly Covid testing for players are among other new regulations.

It is understood clubs will also be allowed to play pre-recorded fan chants in stadiums to celebrate goals from the home team.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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June 17, 2020 5:00 AM

LONDON • Pep Guardiola fears his Manchester City players are not ready for the gruelling demands of the Premier League restart.

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