Man City boss Guardiola explains Haaland absence vs Liverpool and makes Arsenal title prediction

Joe Williams
Erling Haaland puts his hands on his hips

Man City boss Pep Guardiola decided not to take the “risk” on Erling Haaland’s fitness for their Premier League match against Liverpool on Saturday.

Ahead of the fixture, the Citizens are eight points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal but the Citizens have a game in hand on Mikel Arteta’s men.

Haaland, who is the Premier League’s top goalscorer, suffered a groin injury which forced him to pull out of Norway’s Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Spain and Georgia during the international break.

Guardiola admitted yesterday that he would give Haaland every chance of being fit for their crucial match against Liverpool but when the teamsheet was revealed on Saturday the Norwegian wasn’t on it.

Explaining his decision to leave Haaland out of the squad to face Liverpool, Guardiola said on BT Sport: “He is much much better but not fully fit for today. He didn’t feel good, we spoke and said no risk.”

Julian Alvarez has started in his place and Guardiola added: “Tactics are players so the quality Erling has is a specific one, Julian has other ones and we are fully confident.

“During the season always you have this type of problem with injuries and the only thing you can’t do is complain. We have never done it and the players are going to play.”

On the title race, Guardiola added: “There are a lot of games of football left and a lot of things can happen. We don’t feel as though Arsenal will drop many points but hopefully we can be there as long as possible.

“I would love to be in Arsenal’s position but until the last moment we will fight. We have done it for many, many years. It is step by step, game by game and we will see what happens.

“To be in contention for all the competitions, this is amazing. When you win you have the tendency to drop a bit but we are still there and this makes me happy. I feel old.”

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Guardiola said: “I would love to be in the position of Arsenal, rather than have the experience of winning four Premier Leagues in five years.

“I’d prefer to be in Arsenal’s position in the Premier League than the one we have. The advantage is that they are eight points in front of us, this is the real advantage. The past is the past, experience doesn’t count. Absolutely nothing.

“When I hear managers or players say, ‘I don’t have to show anything, I don’t have to demonstrate anything’, it’s the most awful sentence.

“You have to prove it every single day, again and again and again. The past is the past. Memories when you are a grandfather? It’s okay, it’s nice. If people think ‘I don’t have to show anything’, no, you have to, again and again, otherwise you have to retire.”

When asked if Arsenal will struggle to cope with the pressure of a title race, Guardiola added: “I don’t think so, I don’t believe in that. They have many points still to play for, many games to play, and a lot of things can happen.

“But for the consistency Arsenal have shown this season… one game a week now, out of FA Cup, and out of the Europa League.

“With one game a week, you can have an incredible focus and you can prepare. I have the feeling they won’t drop that many points.”

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