Pep Guardiola had his press conference this morning ahead of Thursday’s trip to Arsenal in the Premier League. Man City will be full of confidence going into this game after beating Arsenal so convincingly in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final. The Catalan manager revealed that Raheem Sterling is close to a return, but is unlikely to feature against Arsenal. He also confirmed that Fernandinho will miss the game after picking up a hamstring strain while playing against the Gunners on Sunday.
“Raheem is much, much better,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t know if he can play tomorrow but hopefully Chelsea or Basel [he will be ready].
“Fernandinho tomorrow is out.”
Guardiola’s injury concerns will have been eased by Gabriel Jesus’ return from injury at the weekend. Leroy Sane is also back fully fit, after the winger miraculously overcame an injury in an extremely short time.
Guardiola added that the Premier League is Man City’s priority, and that it is more important than the Champions League.
“We are fighting for the most important title of the season, the Premier League,” Pep said. “More than the Champions League, FA Cup or Carabao Cup.
“We must be focused. The next six fixtures are terrible in terms of quality of opposition. Four are away.
“We think about Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and away games at Stoke who are playing to avoid relegation. We are going to Goodison Park, where it is always tough game.
“We have tough games to play and we must be focused.
“In sport you forget what you have done – good or bad – and focus on the next one. We think about tomorrow’s game and at the end of the season we may think how was the season.”
I don’t think Guardiola has to be too worried about the Premier League, in fairness. He has led his side to 23 wins from their 27 games so far this season, and City are 13 points ahead of Man Utd in second. They also have a game in hand over the fiercest rivals.
They can now surely focus on the Champions League, but a Premier League record points tally will also be in their minds. Chelsea currently hold the record, having racked up 95 points in the 2004-05 season. City currently have 72, but have 11 games remaining to build on that. I, for one, wouldn’t bet against them managing it.