Pep Guardiola to “gamble” on the fitness of key player this weekend

Pep Guardiola to “gamble” on the fitness of key player this weekend

Pep Guardiola has admitted that he may have to take a risk with star striker, Erling Haaland this weekend as Manchester City face Liverpool in the Premier League. The 22-year-old pulled out of the Norway squad at the start of the international break with a groin injury and he is a doubt for City’s match at the weekend.

Haaland is set to be assessed after training on Friday and Guardiola will desperate to play his star man with Phil Foden certainly missing the match following appendix surgery. The England winger is set to be out for a couple of weeks but is hopeful of returning in time to play Bayern Munich in a blockbuster Champions League quarter-final.

For Haaland, the future is a lot clearer – pass a fitness test and he’ll play. The goalscoring machine has netted 42 times already this campaign and is on track to beat a number of long-standing goalscoring records. Speaking about the availability of his centre-forward ahead of the game with Liverpool, Guardiola said:

“Life is risks and sometimes you have to take it. The doctors and, especially, the player will see how he feels. We have scored a lot of goals this season and he has scored an incredible amount of goals. But we’ve always scored a lot of goals since we’ve been here.”

Old rivals meet again

Over the past five years, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have gone toe-to-toe with each other with their respective teams at the top of English football. While City have come out on top more often than not, there is an acceptance that the Blues wouldn’t have reached the heights they have done without the pressure from Liverpool.

Despite Jurgen Klopp’s men slipping down the ladder this season, Guardiola still holds them in high regard and will be taking no chances on Saturday afternoon. The Merseyside club recently flexed their muscles against Manchester United in an emphatic 7-0 victory in a message that told the rest of England that they weren’t quite finished just yet.

Speaking about the threat of Liverpool, Guardiola said:

“They remain an exceptional team. My opinion doesn’t change. They can beat everyone like we can beat everyone. This season the biggest rival is another one but whatever happens in the future they are a big rival.”

A must-win for City?

Before the international break, Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points thanks to a win against Crystal Palace. City were unable to do anything about this as they were embroiled in FA Cup action.

If Liverpool do turn up on Saturday and roll back the clock once more to defeat Guardiola’s men then Arsenal will have the opportunity to go eleven points clear with nine games to play by beating Leeds United at home at 3 pm.

On the flip side, if City beat Liverpool then they will remain in the hunt for a famous treble, something only one English club has ever managed – Manchester United in 1999. Speaking about the business end of the season, Guardiola said:

I said many times, just one team has won the Treble because it’s so difficult and that’s why we don’t think about it. We have this game then a long week and then a tough schedule. The most important thing is we are still fighting in all competitions and that is so good.”

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