After qualifying for the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola faced the media ahead of this weekend’s clash in the Premier League against Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
Here are the main talking points from the boss…
First order of business was confirming Sergio Agüero is the only fresh injury concern, after picking up a muscle injury against Chelsea last week. That means the Argentine joins Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sané and Oleksandr Zinchenko on the sideline.
Guardiola praises ‘humble‘ Khaldoon
After Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak spoke so highly of Guardiola in midweek, the boss repaid the favour this morning when he was asked about his working relationship with the chairman:
“We’ve worked together from the beginning, I’m delighted to work at this club and with this chairman. We can talk about the club and how we can do better, he’s humble.”
Sterling Contract Update
Rumours this week are that Raheem Sterling is the latest Manchester City player to be talks for a contract extension, just 12 months after signing his new deal. Guardiola, however, says he doesn’t deal with that side of business:
“He’s getting better season by season. On the contract I can’t answer, it’s Txiki [Begiristain] and Ferran [Soriano] in charge of that.”
Guardiola reflects on Newcastle defeat
Last season, City’s title challenge looked all but over when Newcastle came from one down to beat the Blues 2-1 in January. That result put City eight points behind leaders Liverpool and from that point on, City picked up maximum points on the way to the title. Guardiola was today reflecting on that performance:
“It’s forgotten, we played slow, we forgot to attack at 1-0. We learnt from it, we spoke about it.
We spoke about being who we are after the next game. In that moment, I didn’t think we’re going to win 14 games in a row and win the Premier League. It was the same meeting as usual [after the game].”
Guardiola on clean sheets
Ever since Aymeric Laporte’s injury back in August, Manchester City have been shaky at the back with lots of different combinations tried and tested. Guardiola believes it’s not a huge concern however:
“We’re alright defensively, we concede few chances, we have to adjust a little detail but we concede few chances and few goals.”
Guardiola not thinking about the title race
City are nine points behind Liverpool and need to close the gap quickly if they have any chance of retaining the Premier League for a third successive season. But Guardiola says it’s not even crossed his mind:
“I’m not thinking about winning the Premier League right now. First we have to get past Leicester, then Liverpool. I know we can’t lose at the moment.”
Arteta to Arsenal?
This morning it was confirmed that Unai Emery was sacked from Arsenal after 18 months in charge, and City number two Mikel Arteta has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant role. When Guardiola was asked about this, his response was short and sweet:
“It’s not a question for me.”
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