That time is upon us once more. The Manchester Derby is, for most Manchester City fans, the most important fixture of the season. Tomorrow, the cross-city rivals will lock horns at the Etihad Stadium, and Pep Guardiola has faced the media ahead of this one.
Here’s all the main talking points from the boss…
Pep on the Manchester Derby
The importance of this game may have shrunk on the pitch, but off the pitch, the rivalry is still high. Pep Guardiola was asked whether, considering the gap from the top of the table, this fixture now has added importance:
“It’s an important game, a good rival, big history.”
“Normally we talk about what happened in the recent past – yesterday or the day before, but everything is changing. Tomorrow at 5:30, we start the game and the players decide who is going to win…
Of course the history is huge and they have quality players and you have to try to beat them. We start today to speak about how they are as a team and what we should do to beat them.”
No approach for Arteta
Mikel Arteta has been recently linked with both of the vacant managerial roles at Arsenal and Everton. But Pep Guardiola has stated there have been no attempts to take his number two from the club and hopes he can stay with him at the Etihad Stadium.
Double boost for the City squad
The weekly injury update leaves just Leroy Sané, Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Agüero on the sidelines. Oleksandr Zinchenko has returned to full training following his recent knee injury and Ilkay Gundogan returns from suspension.
“Zinchenko has trained for the last few days with all the squad. He’s ready, but in his physical condition I don’t know how many minutes he can play.” Guardiola said.
Pep on Ole
Manchester United have had a bad run of results since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken permanent charge, and Guardiola was asked for his opinions on the job his cross-town rival is doing:
“I’m not there to know. It’s difficult for me to judge my colleagues, I don’t know how they work. It’s uncomfortable for me. I think he’s an exceptional person but I don’t know.”
Guardiola heaps praise on Jesus
The Manchester City manager was full of praise for the scorer of two goals in midweek, Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian scored his first goals in eight Manchester City games in the sides 4-1 win over Burnley, and just like he’s said previously, he has a lot of confidence in the number nine:
“He has to be himself. We need him and his goals. That’s why we won last game. We need him for goals and if he puts this idea in his head he is able to do it every game. For the players, confidence has to be there all the time…
…not just because of good or bad performances or winning or losing games. The greatest athletes all the time have a strong mentality that we all have to learn from. That is the key difference…”
They have to play, otherwise they will not be in a high level playing in the Premier League. They have quality and they can control it, they don’t need their manager, mum or friends to speak to them. They have to believe they are good enough.”
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