Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guardiola eyes January sales but cancels Christmas

SoccerNews in English Premier League 23 Dec 2016

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has refused to rule out bringing in reinforcements during the transfer window.

City claimed successive home wins over Watford and Arsenal last week to get their Premier League title bid back on track following damaging losses to Chelsea and Leicester City.

But their defence remains a cause for concern, with the 2-0 victory against Watford just the team’s third domestic clean sheet this season, as a rotating cast have failed to convince at centre-back. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has also endured something of a chastening introduction to English football since joining from Barcelona.

City are among a host of clubs who have been linked to Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and, although Guardiola insisted he is happy with the players at his disposal ahead of the Boxing Day trip to basement boys Hull City, he remains open to further additions alongside the scheduled January arrival of Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus.

“I am happy with what we have, I am confident in the players that we have,” the former Barcelona boss told a pre-match news conference.

“I am not denying that we will look for something.

“Of course Gabriel Jesus is coming, we will have another striker and we will finish the season with almost all of our players.”

Guardiola remains without captain Vincent Kompany for the trip to the KCOM Stadium, while right-back Pablo Zabaleta is doubtful due to the knee problem that forced him off at half-time versus Arsenal.

Aside from that duo and long-term absentee Ilkay Gundogan (knee) the rest of the Catalan coach’s squad will be hard at work in preparation to face Mike Phelan’s men, with few allowances for festive merriment.

“I spoke to David Silva, with some players, and they gave me good advice about what it means to play on Boxing Day at Hull City,” said Guardiola, who is operating without a mid-season break for the first time in his career. “We have to be prepared.

“We’re going to train tomorrow [Christmas Eve] and on the 25th, then get a bus in the afternoon to Hull. We’re going to prepare like it’s not Christmas.”

Hull have a solitary win to their name after back-to-back victories to start the campaign but Guardiola believes they will ask questions of his team.

“Hull started quite well,” he added. “Of course, the situation is not good but I saw many, many games and they are a special team.

“They try to play more than some of the teams here in the Premier League.”

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