Manchester City are preparing for their toughest fixture so far this season, welcoming Chelsea on Saturday in a game that could be a big clue as to who will be this season’s, Leicester City. Like a drunk before a one-night stand, though, Pep Guardiola is already excusing any possible poor performance by complaining of tiredness.
“Most of the players are tired and that’s why we are going to prepare our game as much as possible.”
The problem is, that isn’t really a valid excuse. There is some validity to Pep’s comments in that Man City have Champions League football to deal with, and Chelsea are of course free from this extra workload. Surely though, that shouldn’t really be an issue. Also, doesn’t a Premier League outfit prepare as much as possible regardless of their physical state?
Manchester City have an immense squad. This is a club that spent 213 million euros in the summer, adding to what was an already extremely talented group of players that many people believed already good enough to win the Premier League, denied only by the supposed ineptitude of Manuel Pellegrini. This is a squad with serious depth, deeper than a conversation between Kant and Plato; City should be less affected than most by the amount of games, even if they do play more than some sides.
This squad depth is reflected in the fact that Guardiola has fielded 23 players in the Premier League this season, compared to the 20 used by Conte – this alone should partly mitigate the tiredness brought on by European football.
The second – and most significant factor – that discredits Pep’s excuse is that we are in November. There is no doubt Premier League football is tough on the body and his players feel the effects, but should they really be tired at this stage of the season? If they are, that’s a big concern. It’s like a marathon runner complaining of fatigue after 10 miles. For most of us – the beer-drinkers and pie-eaters – that would be valid, but The Citizens are a squad of professional athletes. If they are tired at the moment, they’re going to be bloody well exhausted come the end of the race or even after that huge hill coming up round the bend called Christmas.
“In the last five or six weeks they have played amazing – not just clean sheets but the way they play.”
Guardiola also said in reference to Chelsea. It is to be hoped that, should the Blues outclass their lighter blue coloured friends this weekend, the Spaniard holds his hands up and admits this is the real reason for the defeat, rather than premature tiredness.
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