Pep Guardiola takes pride in ‘solving’ difficult Premier League challenge

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Pep Guardiola believes the intensity of the Premier League schedule makes winning the competition all the more satisfying.

The festive fixture programme and its implications for player welfare, with issues this year exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has been the subject of considerable debate.

Manchester City boss Guardiola, although not necessarily against the idea of playing at Christmas time, is among those who believes the English fixture list needs to be slimmed down.

City, who beat Leicester on Boxing Day, are back in action at Brentford on Wednesday
City, who beat Leicester on Boxing Day, are back in action at Brentford on Wednesday (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Yet the Spaniard has proved a number of times he can successfully negotiate his way through it, having won eight major trophies, including three Premier League titles, in his first five years at the Etihad Stadium.

Again they are title favourites after their 6-3 win over Leicester on Boxing Day strengthened their position at the top of the table ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Brentford and the New Year’s Day clash at Arsenal.

Guardiola said: “Right now we have games on the 29th and the first, two away fixtures against absolutely difficult, tough opponents. The Premier League is like this.

“That is why it is the most satisfying competition if you are able to win it. You play against all the big teams in different circumstances and you have to solve it. It will be no exception in the next two games.”

Brentford opened their season with victory over Arsenal
Brentford opened their season with victory over Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola has been impressed with Brentford in their first Premier League campaign.

“They made an incredible start to the season, they are doing really well,” said the City manager.

“I saw the game against Chelsea – wow. They lost but were incredible. They drew with Liverpool, they beat Arsenal.

“They are a top team, we know it and will prepare.”

Kevin De Bruyne has impressed in recent games after an injury-hit start to the season
Kevin De Bruyne has impressed in recent games after an injury-hit start to the season (Martin Rickett/PA)

Guardiola feels City’s chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is getting back to his best after being hampered by fitness issues in the opening months of the season, but is pleased how well they coped without him.

He said: “Kevin, when he is fit, has something unique in the world. He is an exceptional player.

“He struggled at the beginning of the season and is now much, much better. The Leeds game was really good and (against) Leicester he was really good all game.

“He is a fighter and a guy who creates goals and assists but he has been injured some seasons for a long time and we survived. Everybody was involved and a part of it. That is a nice thing.”

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