'We're going to kill the players' - Guardiola fires warning over fixture pile-up

Sports | 4 Jan 2018

Pep Guardiola saw Manchester City return to winning ways at the end of the Premier League's exhausting holiday schedule, but warned the English game is in danger of destroying its top stars.

City beat Watford 3-1, just 48 hours after the leaders saw their 18-game winning streak come to an end in a draw at Crystal Palace.

A spell of four games in 11 days has taken its toll, with City striker Gabriel Jesus sustaining a knee ligament injury which will sideline him for four to six weeks. Full-back Kyle Walker also limped off after the victory over Watford with what appeared to be a groin injury.

"What everyone saw in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have. We are going to kill them," City manager Guardiola said.

"The federation bosses have to reflect a little bit. It's not normal to play [December] 31st and two days later. I know the show must go on, but ... that is not normal.

"They [the authorities] have to control it. They don't protect the players and they are who the people come to watch."

Guardiola is the latest in a long list of high-profile managers to question the traditional English fixture schedule this season. And while the City boss believes in the traditions of the English game, he believes the Premier League will have to review television schedules which have led to a lopsided fixture list with some teams playing on two days' recovery and others up to five.

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero sandwiched Christian Kabasele's own goal at Eastlands.

Kevin De Bruyne's performance against Watford was particularly impressive, given that he only passed himself fit four hours before kick-off. De Bruyne was stretchered off after being hacked down by Palace's Jason Puncheon. "He had some pain but wanted to play," Guardiola said. "If he wants to play then I want him to play."

The same was true of the returning David Silva, who had been absent due to complications involving the health of his pregnant wife.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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