Ahead of the return of Premier League and FA Cup this weekend where we will be awaiting some interesting match ups. It doesn’t go without saying that it has been a physically and emotionally draining week for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola says City are “in big trouble” due to injuries picked up in their triumphant draw at the Wanda Metropolitano after Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker were forced off ahead of their clash with The Reds.
Those hoping the Liverpool-City rivalry might add a dimension of seething contempt to make it more fun for the neutral may get their wish through familiarity. Just six days since a match that had Alan Shearer and even Roy Keane drooling over footballing artistry, Wembley’s wide-open spaces and the prospective trebles and quadruples at stake may just add the requisite tension. The other FA Cup fixture is the meeting between Chelsea and Crystal Palac.
David de Gea, Juan Mata and Phil Jones are the survivors from the last Manchester United team to lose to Norwich, a 2-1 Canaries win at Old Trafford in December 2015. That United team ended the Premier League season in fifth, whereas the current side are seventh with very little chance of climbing to fourth.
Here are key quotes from the manager pre-match press conference leading to this weekend’s fixtures:
- Pep Guardiola: “They [Walker and De Bruyne] didn’t train today. We will see tomorrow. Apparently, it will be so close after what happened in the game on Wednesday to be fit for tomorrow but we will wait for tomorrow.”
- Pep: “Kyle had a big twist. He is getting better. We will see the process for the next hours, next days. In football, these kinds of things happen. We will adapt, adjust and go from here. Kevin had stitches in his foot.
- “[Manchester] City were really strong last week, and we were not at our best.” Jürgen Klopp says he would like to see his side at full tilt against Pep Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup semi-final.
- “It will change your life if you’re going to play in the #UCL next season.” Antonio Conte on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
- Patrick Vieira: “Tyrick [Mitchell] and Michael [Olise] had some training on the field, individually yesterday, a little bit more today. We have to wait tomorrow to see if there is any kind of reaction.”
- “To have the capacity and to feel the environment is right for him to open up and show vulnerability, show the feelings that he had.” Mikel Arteta on keeping Granit Xhaka when he joined Arsenal.
- Mikel Arteta on Alex Lacazette’s absence from training: “Obviously there are private reasons that I cannot comment on but I have no other team news to give apart from the guys [Tomiyasu/Partey/Tierney] that we have discussed.”
- Arteta: “When I’m convinced that I’m going to do something that’s best for the team, then it’s going to be judged on whether you win or you don’t win. The problem I guarantee was not Granit playing as a full back.”
- Arteta: “When I put a player on the pitch it’s because I can see that they are in the right condition to do that. When I see in the moment that he is doubting I don’t do him any favours by putting him in there.”
- Ralf Rangnick: “Five players will still be missing for tomorrow and some of them probably also for the upcoming games. Fred, Scott [McTominay], Rafa Varane, Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani – those are the five.”
- Rangnick: “Luke Shaw, we had his bolts and metal stuff removed from his leg. As it seems, he will be out for at least another four weeks, if not five weeks. I think for him it will be difficult to be available for one of the outstanding remaining seven games.”
- Howe: “Joe [Willock]’s made good progress, he’s trained this week, so we hope to have him fit.”
- Howe: “As I sit here now, no [other injuries]. Again, we’ve got a bit of illness in the camp – that’s sort of been with us most of the season, to be honest, so we’re looking at that closely.”
- Thomas Tuchel, speaking ahead of the FA Cup semi-final: “Except for Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi, everybody seems to be OK. Romelu [Lukaku] was back in training yesterday, let’s see if he has any reaction or not.”