Sunday 22 September 2019

Pep Guardiola keen to keep Manchester City's focus over festive period

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is working through Christmas for the first time
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is working through Christmas for the first time

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have trained for their Boxing Day trip to Hull as if Christmas does not exist.

The City manager may have joked that he is too excited to sleep as he prepares for his first taste of a festive Premier League fixture programme, but training has not deviated much from its usual routine.

Guardiola sees such an approach as essential as he bids to avoid complacency against the competition's bottom side.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: "This is my first year here and people say that at Christmas you have to be focused, because at home you celebrate with dinner and lunch, and we have to be prepared.

"We are going to train on the 25th in the afternoon and travel to Hull to play on the 26th. We will prepare for the game as if it was not Christmas time or Boxing Day."

Promoted Hull will go into the game at the KCOM Stadium with just 12 points from 17 games and without a win in their last six league outings.

But Guardiola has seen signs of danger from the Tigers and is taking nothing for granted against Mike Phelan's men.

He said: "They started quite well. Of course the situation is not good but I saw many of their games and they are a special team who try to play more here than other teams in the Premier League.

"I spoke to (David) Silva and some other players and they gave me good advice about what it means to be playing Hull City on Boxing Day.

"What I have learned in my short period here is that the gap between the first 10 and the last 10 is not a big difference.

"That is why it is difficult to win. I am not expecting that the games, whether they are home or away, will be easier than any others."

City will check on the fitness of right-back Pablo Zabaleta, who is doubtful for the trip after hurting his knee in last week's victory over Arsenal.

"He has a little bit of problems but hopefully he can rejoin us in the training sessions," said Guardiola.

PA Media

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