Pep Guardiola has admitted that his focus is on Man City’s FA Cup tie with Newcastle at the weekend, rather than their ‘prestigious’ league games with Chelsea and Liverpool.
The reigning champions have seen their season re-start with a bang, beating Arsenal 3-0 before comfortably dispatching of Burnley 5-0 on Monday evening.
Next up in the league is an away trip to face Chelsea before a home tie with Liverpool, and a failure to win either of those fixtures – coupled with a win for the league leaders in their fixture against Crystal Palace – will see the title head to Merseyside for the first time in 30 years.
The restarted season has thrown up a gruelling fixture schedule, especially for those still involved in cup competitions, with Man City facing three games in a week, and they will have to do it without all-time record scorer Sergio Aguero, who has jetted to Barcelona for surgery on a knee injury.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Guardiola suggested he could rotate his side with the Catalan having ‘one eye’ on the weekend game against Newcastle.
“Gabriel Jesus has played alongside Aguero – we have no doubts about him he is a great player on the pitch and in the locker room,” he said.
“We can’t deny that we have one eye on Newcastle. Chelsea and Liverpool are prestigious and important games but Newcastle is our game. A final for us.
“The team selection will depend on the physical condition of the players. We take a look at what will come next, not just the game against Chelsea.”
“I don’t know when we will be fit perfectly to play every three days,” he added. “We have some kicks after the game, which is normal. You have to see day by day how we can avoid injuries.
“We have to handle the situation, qualify mathematically for Champions League and that is what we have to do.”
Guardiola insisted he has no doubts of whether Gabriel Jesus is capable of replacing Aguero, but hinted he would have to rotate the Brazilian considering the hectic fixture schedule.
“We’ll find out tomorrow after he’s seen the specialist how bad the injury to Sergio is, we will know more tomorrow,” he added. “Our concern is not whether Gabriel is good enough, it’s playing every three days. Sterling, Gundogan & Bernardo can play there.”