Football: Manchester City will not rest amid packed schedule

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has warned his side any complacency at St James' Park would be punished by Rafa Benitez's Newcastle  as "no team is safe going there".
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has warned his side any complacency at St James' Park would be punished by Rafa Benitez's Newcastle as "no team is safe going there".PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Newcastle may be only two points above the relegation zone and are fighting for their Premier League survival, but Pep Guardiola has no intention of rotating his squad despite harder tests to come.

His Manchester City side, who are aiming to temporarily close the gap to leaders Liverpool to just one point, will have to deal with fixture congestion after their league trip to Everton was rescheduled to Feb 6.

The decision was taken following their progression to the League Cup final on Feb 24.

That visit to Goodison Park will be sandwiched between two home games in the league - against Arsenal on Feb 3 and Chelsea on Feb 10.

However, Guardiola claimed ahead of today's game at Newcastle that it was "a privilege" that City were still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple - the only English club capable of achieving the fabled feat this season.

The Spaniard said: "We have a lot of games, so no way (we will be resting). It is what it is. If you believe it's a handicap, that's a big mistake.

"When you are 35 years old, you can have long holidays. No problem, you will be retired. But for now, take it, enjoy it. Next one, win again. Play good, prepare well.

"That's the only way. After, you work for next season."

Guardiola also warned his side any complacency at St James' Park would be punished by Rafa Benitez's men as "no team is safe going there". He added: "We will go (to Tyneside) first and then, it's time to think about Arsenal. Next game is the important one."

Separately, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea also urged caution over growing optimism that the club are in the driver's seat to clinch a top-four place this term.

Their perfect record - eight wins in eight games - under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought renewed hope to the Old Trafford faithful, but de Gea felt the team, who are three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, still had a "difficult" task.

Speaking ahead of their home game against Burnley, he told Sky Sports: "We're happy with the wins, but aren't satisfied with the overall situation. This is a club that should be fighting for the title."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2019, with the headline 'City will not rest amid packed schedule'. Print Edition | Subscribe