LONDON – Treble-chasing Manchester City face a hectic schedule over the season’s final few weeks, but manager Pep Guardiola is not concerned about his team spreading themselves too thin, saying his players understand the gravity of every game and that the rewards are great.
“It’s just a question of six games for sure, maybe seven to fight for everything – come on,” he said on Friday on his side’s full-throttle, late-season push.
“Every player is ready. Every player is ready to play and give his own contribution.”
City are just a point ahead of Arsenal (81) atop the Premier League with a game in hand, and will look to extend that lead when they face Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park. Arsenal also play on Sunday against visiting Brighton & Hove Albion.
“I think definitely (Arsenal) are going to win their three (remaining) games,” Guardiola added. “I would like them to drop points to be honest but I think they will get nine points.”
City are coming off a tense 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw at Real Madrid on Tuesday, and host the Spanish giants in the second leg on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium. They will also play in the FA Cup final against rivals Manchester United on June 3.
“We play for all competitions,” Guardiola said. “You have to switch and adapt. There are four games left in the Premier League and it’s really important to be there and keep our destiny in our hands.
“My thought (for now) is just Everton – no more than that. It’s a real, real priority, Goodison Park.”
When asked how his players bounce back from Tuesday’s physically and mentally draining draw, he said winning helps. His team have won 10 successive Premier League games.
“If in the previous game you win, mentally your recovery is quicker,” he said.
“Always I believe the human being has incredible resources to move forward, keep going.
“It’s normal you’re tired, but at the same time, if your desire, your mental (state) is in the right position, the human being can have incredible energy.”
Erling Haaland was named the Football Writers’ Association’s men’s Player of the Year earlier on Friday, and Guardiola had kind words for his goal-scoring machine.
“I think it’s well-deserved, congratulations to him of course,” he said.
The Norway international has scored a record 51 goals in all competitions for City this season, and a Premier League single season record of 35 goals.
Guardiola also said that Haaland is still in “fine” condition despite struggling against Real, but defender Nathan Ake is still a doubt for Sunday’s game.
Everton, meanwhile, have no fresh injury concerns but manager Sean Dyche has confirmed that captain Seamus Coleman has undergone knee surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season.
The Toffees, despite fighting relegation, head into the match on the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Brighton.
The victory also meant they ended their seven-game winless run in the Premier League, but they have not managed to triumph in back-to-back league matches since the beginning of October.
“The message will be simple – just take it on,” Dyche urged his team.
“It’s a big challenge obviously. But it’s about taking it on with the mentality we showed at Brighton.
“All the details have got to be right against Manchester City. You might need them to have a soft one, and your key players play well, all of them things go in the melting pot. Yet, it’s still about us taking the game on.
“I’m sure the Evertonians will back us as they do, it’ll be a really good atmosphere for us to go and play in.” REUTERS, AFP