Viet Nam News
MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola claimed the fixture pile-up over the holiday season could "kill" players after Manchester City wrapped up their fourth game in 11 days with a 3-1 win over Watford.
Guardiola’s side moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they bounced back from the end of their 18-game winning streak in a draw at Crystal Palace just 48 hours earlier.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero sandwiched Christian Kabasele’s own goal at Eastlands.
But City boss Guardiola was not in the mood to celebrate as the Spaniard complained about the gruelling nature of the fixture schedule for English teams, who are asked to play a host of games in quick succession from late December until the new year.
That packed programme is a stark contrast to most of the other top Europe leagues, who all have winter breaks.
"We made five changes from the last game but it’s not our fault," he said.
"I know here in England the show must go on, but that’s not normal, guys.
The big bosses should reflect that.
"We’re going to kill the players. The federations don’t think about the players but they have to.
"They play 11 months in a row. They have to protect them and play with quality and not quality. We have to think about the artists. But I know it won’t happen."
Guardiola’s frustration had been stoked by a knee ligament injury suffered by Gabriel Jesus against Palace that could rule the City striker out for up to six weeks.
"He will be out for between four to six weeks, or a little bit longer, but hopefully as soon as possible," Guardiola said.
City might not have been at their best at the end of their draining schedule, but the runaway leaders were still too strong for Watford as they maintained their advantage over second-placed Manchester United.
"Watford scored because they have good players. We will review the action but people cannot expect us to win 7-0 every time," Guardiola said.
"We played really well. After dropping two points, we spoke about our reaction because big teams drop points but not too much." — AFP