Pep Guardiola is adamant Manchester City will not “drop a competition” despite the hectic fixture schedule of three games in eight days and his team having played two fewer Premier League matches.
City had played one game fewer than most sides before last Monday’s trip to Everton was postponed due to an outbreak of covid among the Manchester club’s players and staff. Kyle Walker, Gabriel Jesus and three unnamed City players are in isolation.
City’s packed calendar includes Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Manchester United, the FA Cup third-round tie with Birmingham next Sunday, and the resumption of the Champions League next month.
City face Chelsea in Sunday’s Premier League match. The FA Cup might be a competition too many and could offer Guardiola the chance to rest some of his frontline players, but he dismissed that option.
“We never, ever are going to drop one competition, or one game,” he said. “When the opponent is better, which can happen [so we lose], then we are going to congratulate them.
“With the problems that we have – we are going to Stamford Bridge and do our game and try to win.
“I don’t think too much about what is going to happen at Old Trafford for the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. So we are going to travel to London, see who tests negative and then we’re going to decide the team. And day-by-day we’re going to decide the team.
“For sure we’re going to prepare for the FA Cup, the best team – taking into account all the situations that we have – to go through. Maybe we have to use players from the under‑23 team, we will see. But the team is going to play to win. The people who know me know that this is going to happen.”
If City win their two matches in hand they would be a point behind the leaders, Liverpool, as the table stands, although Manchester United have also emerged as contenders, a fact Guardiola does not shy away from.
“I am pretty sure Ole [Gunnar Solskjær, United’s manager] is happier than me,” said Guardiola acknowledging United’s higher standing in the table.
“Since I arrived [in summer 2016] I expect them to be there [challenging]: sometimes in the previous seasons it has not been possible, especially in the league. But I’m not much concerned about United, I’m so busy with what we have to do day-by-day to move forward.
“If they are there, it is because they deserve it.”