Pep Guardiola has no concerns over NFL-inflicted damage to the Wembley pitch ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Tottenham on Monday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Philadelphia Eagles at England’s national stadium on Sunday – a date that led to a scheduling headache after Spurs’ move from their temporary home to the new White Hart Lane was hit by ongoing delays.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino joked that the unusual state of affairs could help his side and hinder City’s slick passing approach but, even if that proves to be the case, Guardiola insists the playing surface will not be used as an excuse.
“It is what it is. I’m pretty sure that Tottenham have a good green keeper,” noted golf enthusiast Guardiola told a pre-match news conference.
“I think the Premier League doesn’t like it too much but it is what it is. Hopefully Tottenham can finish a stadium as quickly as possible but it is not necessary to complain about that.
“We have to adapt quickly, figure out that the pitch will not be in perfect conditions and adapt.”
Kevin De Bruyne is in line for his first Premier League start of the season after making a successful return to City’s first XI in Tuesday’s superb 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Belgium midfielder had been sidelined since August due to lateral knee-ligament damage and voiced his concerns over the Wembley pitch when he spoke after the Champions League match in Ukraine.
But Guardiola rejected the notion that last term’s player of the season would not be risked in a game the league leaders go into only two points better off than Spurs.
“When they [players] are fit, you have full focus on what you have to do,” he said. “Normally injuries happen when they are not 100 per cent focused
“When you know the pitch might not be in the best condition you have to be more ready than ever.”
Pep on whether the Wembley pitch will play a role in his team selection on Monday night…
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 26, 2018
Spurs’ impressive domestic form is at odds with their Champions League struggles – Hugo Lloris’ red card in Eindhoven in midweek proving a turning point in the 2-2 draw against PSV, their only point from three games so far.
Guardiola does not feel this is a fair reflection on their performances, though, and insists he is a huge admirer of Pochettino’s side, having courted controversy by labelling them “the Harry Kane team” last season.
“They gave me my first defeat [at City in 2016] and I realised how strong they are. They are a good team with good players,” he said.
“When we see the game against Inter in the Champions League or the last game in PSV they were better than the opponent. But, again, that competition is special
“They are one of the teams I like to watch. I learn when I watch them. They are the basis of the English national team, a good young team. They have everything to be there [in the title race].”
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