LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has demanded more protection for players after seeing Kevin de Bruyne narrowly avoid serious injury as his side's 18-game winning streak came to an end after a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.
De Bruyne was stretchered off after being hacked down by Palace's Jason Puncheon as City broke in search of a late winner at Selhurst Park on Sunday (Dec 31) following Ederson's penalty save from Luka Milivojevic.
The Belgium midfielder's injury is not as bad as first feared but Guardiola said he was unlikely to be ready to face Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
There was worse news about City striker Gabriel Jesus, who hobbled off in the first half with a knee problem that will sideline the Brazilian for at least "one month, maybe two months", Guardiola said.
"I admire the physicality in the Premier League but the referees have to protect the players," said the Spaniard. "Not just the best players. All the players.
"I haven't spoken to the FA (Football Association) about it. They focus on diving, on these kind of things. I know the contact is allowed here more than any other country but there is a limit."
The loss of Jesus could strengthen City's resolve to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez during the January transfer window, although Guardiola played down the possibility of a move for the Chile international.
"He is a player for Arsenal and I think he is going to stay there," said Guardiola. "In two days, we have another game (and) after that, we have meetings. My feeling now is Alexis is an Arsenal player."
City are 14 points clear at the top of the league table after dropping points for the first time since the second game of the season.