Manchester City return to Premier League action this weekend, with a clash against newly-promoted Aston Villa, in the second of four consecutive games played at the Etihad Stadium.
Ahead of the game, Pep Guardiola addressed the media at the CFA, commenting on a number of topics including the injuries to Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri, as well as Douglas Luiz – who made the switch from Manchester to Birmingham in the summer.
A Double Injury Woe
Guardiola was first asked about the injuries of both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri, and his response was not what City fans wanted to hear.
Rodri will not be back in action till at least after the international break, after he sustained a hamstring injury in City’s 5-1 victory against Atalanta in the week. Pep also confirmed that Zinchenko is out for around five to six weeks after he had surgery to ‘clean up his knee’ after a knock in training.
The Tactical CB Switch
Guardiola was also asked about the recent decisions to play two midfielders, Rodri and Fernandinho, at central defence. He explained that it was a decision that was purely tactical:
“Tactical decision. For the game we had to play against Atalanta, they had a specific quality and we used it.”
He also had a lot of praise for John Stones and admitted it was hard to play him with the form of two important centre-backs last season:
“It’s not about the first choice, it’s about being fit. He has had many injuries, that’s why he couldn’t play. When he came back last season, Vinny and Laporte were in great form.”
Starboy Did It All Himself
There’s been a lot of justified praise for the scintillating form of Raheem Sterling, and the manager says its all down to the England international:
“I didn’t help. All the credit is for him. We were there, we talk as a group. The quality is for everyone as a group, but the credit is for him and the rest of the players…”
“Always we dream of players getting better. The player have this willing to do it, so it is possible.”
Foden’s Time Will Come
As expected, after his brilliant display in midweek, there were questions regarding Phil Foden’s gametime this afternoon. Pep Guardiola responded as he usually does:
“Training, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. Every season will be better. It’s a process of time. Tomorrow he will get it. Time, when he is 23 he will be better than now, and better when he is 26. He’s an incredible worker, a fighter…”
“All the U21 guys say the same. They all come to me and say I should play more. I get it, I understand it, they are right. It is what it is.”
Douglas Luiz Could’ve Been A Blue
Guardiola confirmed that he wanted the now Aston Villa player Douglas Luiz, to be a City player, but the problems with work permits prevented that. On the same topic, the Catalan boss revealed the club do have some form of clause to bring the Brazilian back to Manchester:
“He would be here if the work permit was possible but it wasn’t. He is at Aston Villa. We have an option to bring back. Sometimes it is like this. We want him, last seasons we had problems in the position. It was not possible…”
“I think he was happy here. The last season in the states he was really good.”
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