Manchester City’s form may have helped squad fitness says Pep Guardiola

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<span>Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Reuters

Pep Guardiola is unsure why Manchester City have suffered so few injuries despite their hectic schedule, with the manager pointing to how players’ preparation has featured the same “physios, cooks and wives” this season.

City will become champions if they beat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. It will be their 56th fixture of the campaign, one that followed a truncated pre-season, yet only Gabriel Jesus, Nathan Aké and Sergio Agüero have suffered extended lay-offs. Asked if he was surprised by this, Guardiola said: “Sergio had a long injury [knee, from last term] and Nathan was long as well. Gabriel had Covid and one injury in the beginning in a dangerous position in the leg. The rest [of the squad’s record] was incredible: it was a surprise.

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“In previous seasons we’ve had many injuries but what was the reason when doing exactly the same things [as this one] – the same guys, the same physios, the same preparation, the same cookers, I think the same wives. I don’t know why in one season it’s perfect and the other one we struggle a lot.”

Guardiola suggested City’s excellent form may have provided a boost to his players’ fitness levels. “When the mood is good and you are winning games and winning games, in my experience you get less injuries. The preparation is about [benefits from] your happiness,” he said. “It’s curious to say this because this year we’ve had lockdown and people are not able to do what they want to do. All the backroom staff have done incredibly well and that’s why we could rotate a lot of players and that helps. It’s a big compliment to them.”

City are well placed to win the Champions League as well as the Premier League having already claimed the Carabao Cup, yet Guardiola is warning his players against complacency, especially in regards to next season.

“From my experience, every season is completely different than the previous one,” he said. “If you expect the consistency we’ve had this season for next season, it’s a huge mistake. We are going to start from zero. We have to see how everyone reacts – how we behave personally and as a group.”