Pep Guardiola makes Man City ‘survive’ claim ahead of ‘final’ vs Arsenal in title race

By Staff

Pep Guardiola is hoping that his Manchester City stars return from the international break unscathed ahead of a “final” against Arsenal.

Following the 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over Newcastle United on Saturday, the majority of Guardiola’s squad will now be heading off to play international football. City then welcome Arsenal to Etihad Stadium on March 31 in what will be a huge game in the Premier League title race.

“I will not watch the (international) games, I will rest, and when they arrive on Thursday we will see which players survive and which did not survive,” Guardiola said. “It’s difficult sometimes in that period to give all the players away for friendly games in a difficult part of the season, but the schedule is the schedule.”

“One step at a time,” the Spaniard added, who will enjoy a break in his native Catalunya during the internationals. “First we have a final against Arsenal. But now we rest. I don’t want to think too much in the future.

“It’s been an intense period. Now the players change environment, it is always good for their mind. Some will be with their families, the staff will be with their families, and then when we come back we have three games to prepare for the game against Arsenal. Let’s go.”

After Saturday’s match, Guardiola said he needed Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish to return fit after the break. He also mentioned Erling Haaland, who missed two months of the season through injury earlier in the season.

But although the Norwegian was unable to add to his eight FA Cup goals in Saturday’s match, bending a shot narrowly wide early in the second half, Guardiola was happy with the striker’s performance. “This was the Erling I like to see,” he said.

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“In the moments we didn’t find him a little more with the players behind him…We should have used him a little bit more in the space but sometimes it’s difficult to see during the game.”

Grealish was an unused substitute following a groin injury which saw him left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, but Guardiola predicted he would be ready for the Arsenal match. “Now we have 10 days to train,” he said. “We have a plan for him to train and he will be ready. Every three days we have a game in the final (stages) of the Premier League and the final (stages) of the Champions League. Everyone will be needed.”

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