Pep Guardiola has faced the media ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium. The Blues will confirm top spot with a win tomorrow and with that, qualification for the Round of 16 stage.
Here’s all the main talking points from the boss…
Jesus ready to step up
Guardiola was joined by Gabriel Jesus and the first question was about his gametime. Jesus has been second choice to Manchester City’s all time leading scorer Sergio Aguero since his arrival at the club and the striker feels he’s ready to step up:
“I’m not happy Sergio [Aguero] is injured. I don’t like it when my friends are injured. Of course, I’m ready to play.
It’s not easy [to be on the bench], I want to play but I want to improve my football, that’s why sometimes I’m not happy. When I decide to come to City, I know it’s going to be hard because we have Sergio, who is the top scorer of the club. I think I have a chance to play with Pep, with top players here, at a big club.”
But he adds that he’s learned a lot from his striking partner:
“A lot, Sergio is a great guy and a top player. I have to keep learning from him.”
I want to improve my football, every day I want to improve and learn, to train good and work hard. I have to do it all the time, I’m in a big club, with big players, so I have to work and improve.”
Sergio Aguero to miss the Manchester Derby
Pep Guardiola first confirmed the extent of the three injuries suffered in last weekends 2-1 win over Chelsea. Thankfully for City fans, both Rodri and David Silva are fit and available after suffering from ‘cramp’. However, Sergio Aguero is to be out for ‘a few weeks‘ and ‘a few games‘, including the Manchester Derby, after picking up an injury late on in the game.
Pep on defensive options
Guardiola was asked for his thoughts on the defensive situation surrounding the club and the options he now has to work with, including an update on Oleksandr Zinchenko:
“At the moment he’s [Oleksandr Zinchenko] injured. He arrived as a young player, he’s trained incredible and convinced us. He can play in several positions, he adapts well.
In general I think we are getting better, week by week. We’ve had players injured for a long time. Mendy has come back from long injury, Angelino and Joao are new. I’m more than satisfied with what we’ve done.”
Guardiola on Arteta
Mikel Arteta has been long seen as the replacement for the managers job when Pep Guardiola leaves the club. And the current manager has no doubts about his number two’s quality:
“For sure he will be a manager. I would like him to stay with us as long as possible. But personal life is personal life, his professional desire is professional.
He was a holding midfielder, he had incredible vision on the pitch. He’s an incredible human being, he has a great work ethic. I said after a few months of being together that he would be a manager one day.”
“It’s not easy” for Jesus
With Agüero’s injury, it was evident that questions will be asked whether Gabriel Jesus can step up in the Argentine’s absence. Guardiola understands the strikers frustrations but also has no doubts about his quality:
“It’s not easy for Gabriel, there’s no other striker at this level who can be so humble and accept the situation. It’s important how you train and he never misses training. When he says he wants to work and learn that is the truth…
He’s an incredible guy, he and Sergio respect each other. Sergio plays more minutes, I try and involve both. Sometimes we need both on the pitch. We will miss Sergio, but we’re going to wait for him and in Gabriel we have a star in that position.”
His impact and energy seduced us. He extended his contract, he wants to stay, he knew about the situation with Sergio before he extended. He’s young, he’s going to play many years. Hopefully he’ll stay longer…”
A hectic winter upcoming…
Manchester City have quite a demanding fixture list upcoming with three competitions City are still fighting for. Guardiola admits how tough it’s going to be for his players but knows his players have enough quality:
“It’s the toughest period, a lot of games, it is what it is. We’d rather have everyone but my advice to the players and myself is don’t think too much. We have enough good players to have enough quality there.”
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