Guardiola hits back at Chelsea & Liverpool over COVID excuses

Pep Guardiola has dismissed rival teams’ claims that their run at the top of the Premier League table is due to good fortune with injuries and Covid-19.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who faces Guardiola today, recently claimed that City have not been impacted by Covid-19 in the same way that the Blues have, which has aided their surge to the top of the table.

These sentiments were echoed by Liverpool center-back Virgil van Dijk, who suggested that City’s limited Covid cases aided them ‘enormously’ in their quest to retain the title, but Guardiola was having none of it.

“If they [Chelsea and Liverpool] believe it’s the reason why then maybe,” Guardiola joked. “Sometimes it’s the money that we have, sometimes it’s Covid. I don’t know. Maybe.”

He continued: “I say what I said before – the situation is all around the world. We had injuries, we had Covid. Maybe we don’t say which players – out of respect [to those players] the club don’t do it – but we had a lot of players and backroom staff with Covid and at the beginning of the season we had a lot of tough injuries with our players.

“So what can I say? If they believe we were lucky, OK we were lucky. Thank you. What can I say? The pandemic is all around the world and everywhere there is the virus. We are exposed every single minute and day to getting it and we’re no exception.” 

Guardiola also expressed his displeasure with the practice of requesting fixtures be rescheduled due to injury. Arsenal are seeking to call off Sunday’s north London derby due to a player shortage, despite recently loaning out Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun and fielding an Under-23 side on Friday evening.

“We try to play,” he said.

“If we have 11 or 12 players, it’s enough, we play. We have Cole Palmer, James McAtee, and other players we try to play. We have enough players.

“I don’t know what counts. Is it just Covid or injuries? Injuries happen all the time so I don’t know the rules of the Premier League when games are called off – for which reason. In many cases, we had just 12 first-team players available plus the keeper and we played.” 

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