Wednesday 23 January 2019

Pep Guardiola worried that Manchester City are ‘running out of players’ after Burnley salvage late point

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Tim Rich

The Premier League may be as good as won but with seven leading players injured, Pep Guardiola claimed that Manchester City are starting to run out of players with the Champions League back on the horizon.

The City manager was unable to name a full bench before Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley that cost him the chance to extend the lead over Manchester United to 18 points.

However, with Manchester City due to play Basel in the Champions League in 10 days’ time, the absence of David Silva, John Stones, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane would be a worry.

Guardiola named only six substitutes at Turf Moor and because City’s academy side had played on the Friday, he argued there was no point in bringing in more reinforcements from the youth team.

“We didn’t have any players,” he said. “They are injured. I would have liked to have had 18 players and have called on someone from the second team but they played yesterday. Others were injured. We will see at Leicester (who they play on Saturday evening) just how many are coming back.

“Stones has a problem with his knee and I prefer him to rest. The last game he was sick and before that he had a pain in his knee. We had Vincent Kompany coming back, Aymeric Laporte already here and decided not to use him but to give him time to recover.”

It seems odd that the manager of a club that has spent £252m on transfers this season should, like a Catalan Harry Redknapp, be complaining that his side is ‘down to the bare bones’ but the absence of key players is becoming a worry. Manchester City will face better teams than Basel in the Champions League.

Guardiola rejected the suggestion from the Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, that the title race was over. He also dismissed arguments that City’s enormous lead in the Premier League was responsible for complacency that Burnley were able to exploit.

“Belive me, the team was focused,” he said. “You don’t play as well as we did without that. Jose said what he did and I said what I said. You can believe which one you like. There are still 36 points to play for and a lot will happen.

 “You saw what happened today we played amazing football and I don’t have any regrets. Today was one of the best performances we have had this season by far. We controlled many, many situations. That is why I am optimistic that we can keep going at this level.

“But at the top level you have to score goals and we were not able to do that. This is why we dropped two points. Last year we had two shots on target and we scored two goals. Today we had the other side of the coin.”

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