Pep Guardiola has responded to claims from Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel with regard to the title race. The Liverpool and Chelsea managers have given Covid-19 infections as the main reason their teams are lagging behind Manchester City in the title race.
Liverpool and Chelsea are the two teams fighting City for the league title this term. But a string of disappointing results have left the two teams with an uphill task to catch Guardiola’s side.
With a 10-point gap on the table, the Cityzens would celebrate another league title if the team continues with the current form.
But instead giving credit to the Blues for their consistency, the two rival managers ate using Covid-19 as a convenient excuse to explain the situation.
Klopp had stated earlier in the month that Covid-19 prevented his team from going neck and neck with City. Tuchel has now agreed with him stating ahead and the matchup at the Etihad Stadium that City have a lack of injuries and Covid-19 virus infections to thank for being top of the table.
“...So far the biggest difference in the season as far as I’m concerned is they dealt better with injuries and the Covid situation,” said the Chelsea gaffer.
“Maybe it is lucky, maybe they do it better, but they have fewer injuries to key players, fewer days out and weeks where they miss them. They did not suffer from Covid like we did. This is a huge difference.
“We had some draws this season that were unnecessary. If you have your full squad you create a certain atmosphere for everybody that pushes everybody to the edge and you need to be on your edge and at the very highest level if you want to compete with Man City."
Guardiola has responded to the assertion. The City boss stressed the fact that all clubs have been affected by the pandemic.
“The last six, seven games there are four, five academy players on the bench. We are in the same situation as all other clubs,” said Guardiola in his press conference ahead of City’s encounter with Chelsea.
“Injuries a bit less because our medical department are incredible. It happens to all clubs, it’s around the world, it’s not because we are smarter. The virus comes to the bubble, everyone suffers.”
Of course, the Omicron variant has affected several clubs in the Premier League and caused a welter of postponements through the campaign. But Chelsea have squad depth.
For example, despite having the likes of Andreas Christensen, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell and Reece James all likely out of the game, they still have Anthony Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Marcos Alonso and captain Cesar Azpilicueta all available.
That’s still a strong back four that Tuchel can win the league with. In fact, apart from Edouard Mendy that is away at the African Nations Cup, the rest of the squad is available.
In the remainder of the interview, the German kept stressing that he is not using Covid-19 as an excuse. But that may be because he is fighting an internal battle to convince himself otherwise.
Although City have not yet had any games postponed, it would be recalled that seven first-team players were out of action for the recent FA Cup third-round tie at Swindon. Even Guardiola himself was absent after testing positive.
New positive cases have also been reported heading into the encounter.
In the end, Man City’s success has always been dismissed by opponents for one reason or the other. If the Cityzens are not buying success, there are gaming the system.
Maybe they have added another trick to gain an unfair advantage.
They have struck a deal with the virus to swarm the camps of the opponents while staying away from the men in sky blue. So no one should blame the other teams if they fail to compete.
Blame it on Manchester City.