Football

Man City manager Guardiola: Three weeks of prep not enough for players

Players not conditioned to deal with fixture pile-up

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he does not know how ready his players are for the restart of the English Premier League and the flood of matches to come.

Second-placed City play Arsenal, managed by Guardiola's former assistant Mikel Arteta, at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

City then host Burnley next Monday, travel down to Chelsea the following Thursday and across to Newcastle United on the Sunday.

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"If you ask me how is the team, I don't know. Tomorrow we will see how is the level of the team," Guardiola told reporters on a Zoom call.

"We are ready to play one game, but three days after another one and four days after another one, we are not ready. Not just Man City, all teams."

Guardiola said his players were in good shape, but expressed concern that they had only three weeks of group training after months without a match. Clubs in Germany and Spain had five or six.

"All Premier League teams have three. We know it is not enough, but it is what it is," said the Spaniard.

In Arteta, Guardiola will be facing an old friend and, while foes on the pitch, he hoped he would have time to catch up afterwards.

"We sent a message about one hour and a half ago... It was about the wine we are going to drink after the game if social distance allows."

Aware of the scrutiny the league will be under as it resumes amid the pandemic, EPL chief executive Richard Masters has issued a plea to fans not to gather around stadiums during matches.

"By turning up to the game you are putting things at jeopardy," Masters told the BBC yesterday.

There will be no fans allowed into any games this term, but Masters is optimistic there could be some eventually given entry next season.

"Discussions have started, but it is not appropriate for me to put a timescale on it," he said. - AFP, REUTERS

Football