Pep Guardiola admits he is ‘worried’ about a lack of preparation ahead of the Premier League’s restart tomorrow evening, with Manchester City welcoming former coach Mikel Arteta and Arsenal to the Etihad.
The Premier League champions welcome the Gunners to Manchester in a behind-closed-doors fixture on Wednesday night, the original contest having been postponed in the wake of Arteta testing positive for coronavirus – with England’s top tier subsequently suspended in mid-March.
Guardiola is now preparing his side for their return after three months without competitive action, and admits he has concerns over the level of preparation his side have enjoyed ahead of the clash.
“They came back really well. No complaints,” the Man City boss said at his pre-match press conference. “The way we are right now I think other clubs and teams [as well], we don’t know. If you ask me how the team is, I don’t know. Tomorrow we will see the level. From there, we are going to see and suggest what we can do better.
“What we were worried about over the three weeks is the lack of preparation, [it’s] not like in Germany or Spain where they worked five or six weeks. All Premier League teams have three. We know it is not enough but it is what it is. Everyone has to adapt – shop owners, restaurants.
Pep Guardiola’s pre-match press conference. The new normal… pic.twitter.com/aD0K0nnwDO
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) June 16, 2020
“The players are training good but I don’t know the physical condition. I think we are ready to play one game but three days after another one, and four days after another? We are not ready. That’s why you have to rotate and use all the players.”
The fixture will also see Arteta return to the Etihad for the first time since being appointed as Arsenal head coach in December, the Spaniard having previously spent three years working alongside Guardiola and his backroom staff.
The City boss admits he is ‘excited’ to be reunited with his compatriot who has enjoyed a promising start to his first role in senior management, with Guardiola joking that discussions have already taken place on how the pair can enjoy a social distanced post-game beverage.
“I’m so excited to see him, one of the nicest people I ever met,” the Man City boss said. “It was a joy for me and for all of us to work with him.
“The feeling I have is he’s happy there and doing an incredible job. I’m looking forward to seeing him. This game belongs to the players, they make the difference.
“He knows absolutely everything of us, he was an incredibly important part of our success, he helped us to be who were were and who we are. We are delighted he will come back, especially if he is happy there. We sent a message an hour and a half ago. It was about the wine we are going to drink after the game if social distance allows!”
Read – Assessing each side’s run-in in the race for Champions League football
See also – The joyous Twitter reaction to Marcus Rashford getting school meals scheme reinstated