A weeks rest for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City; feels weird right? Well it would be welcome for the players, who have played seemingly non-stop for the past month. Last season, Crystal Palace shocked the Etihad as they beat the Champions 3-2, and Guardiola certainly won't want a repeat of that one!
Here's what the boss had to say ahead of this one...
The threat of Palace and Hodgson
Pep Guardiola was asked about the threat of this weekend's opposition; and he knows exactly what problems they can cause.
"You can win or lose any game but we played against Crystal Palace a lot and we only lost one game. We prepare the game, yesterday and today to do it as best as possible, to win another game."
The boss also admires his opposition manager's longevity in the professional game:
"Of course I admire him. It’s incredible how he still has the patience to be a manger at his age. It’s incredible and he is doing really well. We cannot forget the situation when he took over when they had zero points.
Everyone considered them relegated. Instead of that, he did an incredible job and it is a pleasure and an honour for me every time I get to see him."
"I think when you are still training at 74 it is because you are bored at home. It’s addictive, a competition, you need to prove yourself. Every game is different, opponents are different, maybe the reason why older managers are still in charge."
Laporte and Sané updates
The weekly update on both Leroy Sané and Aymeric Laporte has arrived. It's as expected however, with Laporte completing another week in full training whilst Sané is still training individually.
"Leroy is still not training with us but everything is going well. And Laporte made another week with us training."
Guardiola knew about the players' 'party'
A story that broke in the week reported that a number of Manchester City players attended a party, describe as 'bunga-bunga' in it's style, after the 6-1 win at Villa Park last weekend. Guardiola says he knew about it and he is always told about plans before they happen:
"I knew about it. When they have time, they make dinners together with the staff. I know it and I like when they are together out of here, sometimes at home or sometimes in restaurants. It was nice."
John Stones to Arsenal?
Pep was in no mood to talk transfer rumours today, and when he was asked for his comments on the story linking John Stones to Arsenal, he gave no hesitation in telling people just that:
"I am not going to talk about rumours about our players or other players. We are going to buy 500 million players? I’m not going to answer about that."
A free week for once
For the first time in a long while, Manchester City have had the whole week to prepare for the visit of Crystal Palace. Pep says he is used to the hectic routine after playing every three days:
"We had one or two days off, then we analysed the Villa game because it will be quite similar against Sheffield United, and then move on and prepare knockout games with Fulham and United. After the West Ham game we have 15/16 days so normal routine."
Guardiola on the formof City and Riyad Mahrez
Manchester City are a long way off the top of the table, but the manager thinks all season, the performance level has been high:
"I think the way we have played all season has been good. Of course we were not consistent, especially in the beginning, but in general it's been good."
He also believes Riyad Mahrez has entered his best form since joining City:
"Yes [it 's his best season in a City shirt], especially because he plays regularly. Everyone needs rhythm, and now he's playing quite often. In front of goal he's clinical, in front of their you always have the feeling he's going to score."
Guardiola for at least another year!
If anyone was worried about Guardiola possibly leaving at the end of this season, hopefully this quote will put your mind at ease:
"Unless the club sacks me, I'm going to stay next season. 100% I'm going to stay next season. 100%."
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