Guardiola’s thoughts for Liverpool game

City lost to Liverpool 1-0 back in October and haven’t beaten them for two years. The Reds are seven points outside the top four but have several injuries to cope with.

In Summary

•Phil Foden will not be available after undergoing surgery and Erling Haaland is possibly unfit after suffering a problem during the international break. 

•Mahrez only found himself on the bench recently because of Foden’s superb form. His one goal and five assists during his last five games have all been achieved with Foden out of the team. 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts in a past match
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reacts in a past match
Image: FILE

Liverpool have a tactical advantage over Manchester City in this weekend’s clash.

Phil Foden will not be available after undergoing surgery and Erling Haaland is possibly unfit after suffering a problem during the international break.

City were assessing his ability to play as I write this after he spent time in a Barcelona hospital and a decision will not be made until Saturday morning.

The club sent the following: “Manchester City can confirm Phil Foden has left the England squad after undergoing surgery in London for acute appendicitis. He will not be fit for this weekend’s Premier League game at home to Liverpool and it is unclear at this stage how long he will be unavailable.”

With Foden out Guardiola once again turn to in-form Riyad Mahrez, who scored for his national Algerian national team this week.

Mahrez only found himself on the bench recently because of Foden’s superb form. His one goal and five assists during his last five games have all been achieved with Foden out of the team.

Jack Grealish will continue on the left wing. However, Guardiola likes to have more than one option for each position and that is an opportunity for Julian Alvarez to move from the centre to the outside but he is also needed to cover for Haaland so the manager will decide where best to use him.

Bernado Silva is Guardiola's ace card since his versatility allows him to cut inside whenever necessary adding to the strike threat up front. 

City lost 1-0 to Liverpool back in October and haven’t beaten them for two years. The Reds are seven points outside the top four and have several injuries to cope with.

Calvin Ramsey is out with a knee injury, possibly for the season. Thiago Alcantara has a hip problem and is unlikely to play while Luis Diaz still has a knee problem. But I am told this has almost cleared up and after training with the academy youngsters and a full session this week, he could be available.

Darwin Nunez was being assessed for an ankle injury sustained in the 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid. Cody Gakpo was taken ill at the Euros and a decision will be made on Saturday morning.

Klopp still has a strong forward line to choose from including Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Mo Salah, alongside Gakpo.

Former Tottenham manager Antonio Conte
Former Tottenham manager Antonio Conte

Stellini faces tough challenge taking over from Conte

Cristian Stellini was promoted to stand-in Tottenham manager on Sunday following Antonio Conte’s departure.

Conte’s number two is going to find fighting at the top of the league a tough challenge. Tottenham are desperate to make the top four at the end of the season to give them a platform on the negotiating table in their quest to keep Harry Kane when his contract expires at the end of next season.

Emerson Royal has provided Stellini with his first challenge with the defender ruled out of this weekend's match against Everton.

The defender was preparing for surgery on his knee as I write this and is expected to be out for six weeks. He will face a tight race to be fit to finish the season on May 28th.

Ben Davies and Richarlison suffered muscular problems in the 3-3 draw at Southampton and Davies has a hamstring problem too, which will put him out of the team until May.

Richarlison will return in the middle of April. Ryan Sessegnon is also on the treatment table and is out of the Everton game. Hugo Lloris made it through a friendly game behind closed doors against Ipswich last week and should be available.

The mood at the Tottenham Stadium is that Julian Nagelsmann is the current favourite to take over as coach and he is the bookmakers' choice but chairman Daniel Levy is also talking to several interested parties and wants to tie up a deal as soon as possible.

Mauricio Pochettino is the fans' choice but I have heard he might wait in the hope of landing the job with Real Madrid if Carlo Ancelotti leaves in the summer.

Spurs Director of Football favours Luis Enrique and last night, Zinedine Zidane’s name cropped up.

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford

Rashford takes on light training

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has returned to training after withdrawing from England’s Euro qualifying squad.

Rashford originally picked up an injury in the match against Fulham in the FA Cup win.

He returned on Monday to the Carrington training facility after a short 48-hour break in New York.

He was given light training away from the main squad of players but this concentrated on his fitness and contained no ball work.

United are hoping he will be fit to play against Newcastle on Sunday. Erik Ten Hag’s squad is already missing Christian Eriksen (who is making good progress in his fight to get fit again), Casemiro, Alejandro Garnacho and Donny van de Beek.

Marcel Sabitzer and Raphael Varane are both doubtful and the club are unsure when Anthony Martial will be ready to return.

A tough road back for Smith-Rowe

Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe has endured a worrying few years during which time he believed his top-flight career might be short-lived.

A continuous groin injury has plagued him since he was 18.

He said: “It started when I was on loan at Leipzig in the Bundesliga and I found it very difficult to keep playing. Doctors told me that my skeleton wasn’t quite developed and finally, after playing against Manchester United earlier this season, I decided that I had suffered enough pain and had to have an operation."

"With the break in the World Cup, it was the right time but I knew I would miss some matches and afterward, I was quite depressed because I had never had surgery before. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I would be the same player. I found returning to training difficult but I feel ready to go now. I’m just building on each game I play.”

Mikel Arteta did everything he could to include Smith-Rowe, make him part of the team setup. The player attended every meeting to talk about tactics, game analysis and he stayed around the team despite not playing.

He took time out to praise his teammates with a special mention for new Gunners Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus.

He said: “Zenko is one of the best technical players I have ever seen.”

Smith-Rowe is back now, playing for the England Under-21s and looking forward to joining Arsenal as they fight for the league title.

Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst
Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst
Image: FILE

Weghorst is built “like a house”

Wout Weghorst believes he has made the most of his unexpected opportunity to lead the Manchester United strike force.

Following his loan to Besiktas, after Burnley’s demotion to the Championship last season, he was shocked to receive a phone call from Erik Ten Hag.

After cutting a deal to leave Besiktas and travel to United, he has started all 18 of United’s games since arriving.

The 6ft 6'' striker said: “Anthony Martial was the striker and he was doing fine – but he is injury-prone and the manager wanted all positions to have cover. The coach told me that it was up to me, to force things and only the best players are selected.”

Martial’s future at United is in doubt because of yet more injury problems while Weghorst says: “My physique is like a house and has been all through my career. I have never had an injury and never even had to miss a single match. It is bizarre, really.”

He is dedicated to a good nutritional diet and prides himself on his mental condition.

Still, Weghorst has scored just two goals but he plays exactly the way Ten Hag wants him to perform and he will be around for a while.

 Tuchel aims for a treble

Thomas Tuchel claims he was surprised to get the call to coach Bayern Munich.

The ex-Chelsea boss is now in line to go for a treble with the German champions.

Manchester City are determined to stop him in the Champions League.

49-year-old Tuchel said: “Winning all the titles is still possible. It will be about the details and I have an idea of what to do and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tuchel is hoping to take his former Chelsea assistant coach Anthony Barry with him. 

Pep praises backroom staff

Pep Guardiola has been talking about his number one requirement with any player who he signs…team spirit and loyalty.

He said this week: “I always think, this is a team. I am not alone at Manchester City. Backroom staff, sporting director, everyone. I love that. When I see players who want to work for the team, these are the players who mean the most to me.”

It underlines why Guardiola demands every player to give 100 per cent for the team and contribute to the club’s success whether they are starting, coming on as a substitute or even looking to leave.

Guardiola also dislikes individual awards because he says to win one means a player has been supported by the team and the glory should be shared by everyone who has worked to bring success to the club.

Whenever he receives an award he always makes a speech in which he mentions the staff who work with him at the club.

When Virgil van Dijk won the 2018/19 PFA Player of the Year award and Raheem Sterling was named FWA Footballer of the Year Guardiola made sure he gave a press conference in which he named Bernardo Silva as the player with the biggest influence that season.

This year it is Erling Haaland, along with Arsenal pair Bukayako Saka and Martin Odegaard and United’s Marcus Rashford who are tipped to receive awards but as Guardiola points out, Haaland can only score by making use of the quality of the players around him.