Pep Guardiola fears Man City stars in danger over fixture pile-up

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) looks at Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on Jan. 2, 2018. (AFP/Oli Scarff)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Pep Guardiola fears Man City stars in danger over fixture pile-up

Manchester, United Kingdom: Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City return to winning ways at the end of the Premier League’s exhausting holiday schedule, but warned the English game is in danger of destroying its top stars.
City beat Watford 3-1 on Tuesday, 48 hours after the leaders saw their 18-game winning streak come to an end in a draw at Crystal Palace.
A spell of four games in 11 days has taken its toll, with City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus sustaining a knee ligament injury which will sideline him for four to six weeks.
Full-back Kyle Walker also limped off after the victory over Watford with what appeared to be a groin injury.
“We are going to check it out, he (Walker) might have a little problem,” Guardiola said.
“But what everyone saw in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have. We are going to kill them.
“The federation bosses have to reflect a little bit. It’s not normal to play (December) 31st and two days later.
“I know the show must go on, but... that is not normal.
“They (the authorities) have to control it. They don’t protect the players and they are who the people come to watch.
“Here in England you don’t protect the players, you have to look for the quality, not the quantity.”
Guardiola is the latest in a long list of high-profile managers to question the traditional English fixture schedule this season, his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho being chief among them.
And while the City manager believes in the traditions of the English game, he believes the Premier League will have to review television schedules which have led to a lopsided fixture list with some teams playing on two-days recovery and others up to five.


“Of course, space them out. I’m not saying change Boxing Day (December 26) but you cannot play at midday at Selhurst Park, come back, celebrate New Year’s Eve but are thinking about the game two days later,” he said.
“People say it’s impossible. It’s not basketball or tennis, the players need recovery. Just see how many players have muscular injuries.
“The show must go on but were have a lot of people here, to take care of them but the schedule does not protect the players.”
Meanwhile, Jesus’ loss is a blow to player and club, especially in a World Cup year that promises so much for the 20-year-old Brazilian star.
“Hopefully he will be back as soon as possible,” Guardiola said.
De Bruyne’s performance against Watford was a particularly impressive effort, given that he only passed himself fit four hours before kick-off.
“Kevin went out on the pitch in the afternoon and wanted to play,” said Guardiola.
“He had some pain but wanted to play, if he wants to play then I want him to play.”
The same was true of the returning David Silva, who had been absent due to complications involving the health of his pregnant wife.
The midfielder has been traveling between Manchester and Spain and Guardiola is prepared to give the Spanish international more time off if he requires it.
“We are very happy David is back,” he said. “We don’t know how long but he made another exhibition. He’s essential, he showed how important he is for us.
“Maybe (he will return). He’s free to stay or leave, it depends. He wants to stay because he enjoys it but family is the most important thing in life.
“It doesn’t matter if we drop a lot of points, I’d never push him. Some days he will be here, some he will be out, it depends how his family is.”


West Brom fightback takes shine off more Mohamed Salah success

Updated 17 min 17 sec ago
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West Brom fightback takes shine off more Mohamed Salah success

  • Salah strikes again to move within sight of the Premier League goalscoring record .
  • But West Brom fight back from two goals down to grab a point.

West Bromwich Albion kept their slim hopes of Premier League survival alive with a stunning late comeback to draw 2-2 with Liverpool and take the shine off Mohamed Salah’s latest goal-scoring landmark.
The Egypt international matched the record of 31 goals for a 38-game top-flight season set by Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14) with three matches still to spare with a clever chipped finish.
Andy Cole’s record of 34 goals in a 42-game season looks well within the grasp of Salah, who took the limelight away from Danny Ings’ first goal since October 2015.
The final word, though, belonged to West Brom as they came from behind with goals from Jake Livermore and then Salomon Rondon in the 88th minute.
It was just reward for the hosts, with caretaker-manager Darren Moore extending his unbeaten run to three matches, including games against two of the top four.
However, it was harsh on Ings who looked set to enjoy a day to remember after a difficult period since moving to Anfield from Burnley, with two serious knee injuries restricting him to just 11 appearances for the club in his first two seasons.
Ings seized his chance replacing the rested Roberto Firmino with a fourth-minute strike, his first in 930 days since scoring the last goal of Brendan Rodgers’ reign.
No one could begrudge him his moment in the Black Country sunshine after he tore a cruciate knee ligament in Klopp’s first training session at the club, just days after winning his solitary England cap against Lithuania, and suffered another injury to his other knee just over a year later.
With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home to Roma Klopp made five changes, including three of the back four, and that gave Ings a chance.
Sadio Mane worked his way to the byline and drilled in a cross which Georginio Wijnaldum controlled before allowing his teammate to blast home.
It was only the third of Liverpool’s past 27 league goals not to be scored by Mane, Firmino or Salah.
Ings was denied a second by goalkeeper Ben Foster’s outstretched foot late in the half but West Brom dominated the latter stages of the half. A rare miscontrol by James Milner allowed Livermore to whip over a far-post cross which James McClean drilled back across goal, but Jay Rodriguez’s lunge was inches away from converting a certain equalizer.
Ings had a penalty shout turned down after the break when Craig Dawson stepped across him to prevent him reaching Joe Gomez’s pass.
Salah, quiet since an 11th-minute shot was deflected over by Livermore, came in from the periphery when substitutes Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain combined to tee him up to coolly beat Foster in the 72nd minute.
Livermore, though, gave the hosts hope with a scrambled finish from a corner and Rondon headed home Brunt’s near-post free kick with two minutes to go.