Pep Guardiola has opened up on Manchester City’s postponed fixture with Everton, as he discussed his side’s disrupted preparations ahead of Sunday’s game with Chelsea.
City were due to play the Toffees on Monday evening, before an outbreak of Covid-19 in the club’s training facility caused the match to be postponed, with a number of first-team players having tested positive.
England international Kyle Walker and Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus originally both tested positive for the virus on Christmas Day, before further cases caused the postponement of the game with Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Everton asked for ‘full disclosure’ from the Premier League regarding the nature of the postponement, with league rules stating games should go ahead providing a side has 14 players available. Speaking about the decision to call off the game at Goodison Park, Pep Guardiola revealed he spoke to Carlo Ancelotti on a couple of occasions to explain the situation.
“It was four people [who tested positive], two players, the first time and then three more,” the Man City boss said at his pre-match press conference. “I don’t think the Premier League allow us to name the players but you will know tomorrow.
“We had enough players to play against Everton, we wanted to play but on the day of the game with more cases, we informed the Premier League and I personally called Carlo Ancelotti to explain the situation because the day before we were in touch about what would happen and the huge risk.
In consultation with the Premier League, Man City's first team squad resumed training today in preparation for their match at Chelsea on Sunday
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 30, 2020
“[There are] People are dying all around the world. Unfortunately, the problem is still here but now the training centre is disinfected and hopefully the next tests everyone is negative and the people that are positive can come back without problems.”
While Ancelotti sent his ‘best wishes’ to those at Man City, Everton’s official statement cut a much more frustrated tone, and Guardiola hopes both sides will be at full strength when the rescheduled fixture is player.
“I preferred the statement from Carlo Ancelotti than the statement from the club,” he said.
Everton were left enraged on Wednesday when Manchester City were given the all-clear to return to training — just two days after the teams’ Premier League clash was postponed due to positive Cov19 tests at #ManCity.
[Daily Mail] pic.twitter.com/OWBo0jVhbG
— City Chief (@City_Chief) December 30, 2020
“We would have loved to have played against Everton. Hopefully, when we go to Goodison, Digne, Richarlison, Allan, James can play and we will beat them. We would have loved to play the game but wisely the Premier League decided for the welfare of everyone not to increase the cases.”
The Citizens are due to face Chelsea on Sunday afternoon after being able to return to their training facility earlier this week, with Guardiola revealed that amended preparations have been far from ideal ahead of Sunday’s game.
“You are less in touch,” he said. “The players are not in the locker room any more, they just train on the pitch.
“It is what it is. We have a good enough squad to go there and try to compete against a tough opponent in Chelsea.
“We are going there to play our game with enthusiasm and goodwill to try to do a good performance.”