Pep Guardiola has been critical of his Manchester City players stating they need to remain professional should they be dropped. Although no problems yet, the Spaniard’s comments suggest that changes could be made ahead of their Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night while those who don’t make the starting XI must remain focussed.
“The guys who don’t play deserve to play – it’s always like this,” said Guardiola. “When they are training in a bad way they are out of the selection. But this doesn’t happen when they train good and that’s good for us.”
For those that watched Manchester City’s extraordinary documentary on Amazon Prime, fans of the game will understand that Guardiola likes to use his full squad and with injuries always an occurrence, players on the fringes need to be ready to step in should they be needed.
“It will be tough. I will be unfair. When they are not selected they are not happy – after the game they are not happy. But they have to come back happy for the training session. They have to be happy; no other solution,” added the 47-year-old.
“If they are professional, they know what it is. If they have bad faces, bad moods or want to show how disappointed they are, they will have big problems because they are not going to play … They have to know: the next game is here, and they have to convince me.”
Guardiola also praised the work Mauricio Pochettino has achieved over the past couple of seasons that has seen Tottenham Hotspur play some of their best football. Frustrations were evident over the summer after the Argentine failed to land a single player in the transfer window but with limited funding and a new stadium on the way, there’s comparisons to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal when they swapped Highbury for Emirates.
“For the last five or six years they are always there [at top]. They cannot invest in players because of their incredible stadium they build – it’s a lot of money. It’s a top side. It’s my first defeat [in his opening season] and I know how strong they are. Last season we did well in both games [winning both] but they’ve got a good manager and good players,” said Guardiola.
Kevin De Bruyne could make his first domestic start of the season since the opening day against Arsenal and while Danilo has been ruled out, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan remain doubtful, although they could make the substitute bench while Claudio Bravo remains a long-term absentee.
A problem that has arisen from a Manchester City perspective is the pitch at Wembley. De Bruyne has expressed his concerns as the playing surface hosts NFL fixture Jacksonville Jaguars vs Philadelphia Eagles just hours prior but while the Belgian has showed his discontent, Guardiola stated they must adapt to any situation.
“It is what it is. I am sure Tottenham have a good [groundsman]. Hopefully Tottenham can finish their stadium as quickly as possible, but it is not necessary to complain. We have to adapt.,” said Guardiola.
“It wasn’t the plan but we need to accept the reality,” Pochettino said. “We hope that the weather will be good and not kill the pitch and we can play in a very good condition.”
Heading to London, Manchester City remain unbeaten in six Premier League fixtures in the capital, winning four in a row while Tottenham Hotspur hold an impressive Monday Night Football record of winning seven and drawing two in their previous nine on the weeknight.
All in all, Manchester City’s trip to Wembley for this fixture is game of the weekend. The pitch is likely to play its part in this tie as the Citizens look to get their free flow passing game going while Pochettino’s Spurs side have shown they can mix it up with the big boys for some time now.
Manchester City should be too strong for their opponents and they always have the ability to break people down. Whether that’s what will happen against a robust Spurs side remains to be seen. The big talking point ahead of this fixture will be which front three Guardiola opts for – Sergio Aguero is of course likely to start but Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez may both have to settle for the bench.
Whatever happens on Monday night, expect Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City to be a high octane football match with chances aplenty at both sides of the pitch.
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