Pep Guardiola references Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and rules key player out of Manchester derby | Football | Sport


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed John Stones will miss Saturday’s crunch clash with Manchester United through injury. The Citizens travel to Old Trafford for the 189th Manchester derby as they look to bounce back from their shock Carabao Cup exit in midweek.

Speaking ahead of the Premier League encounter, Guardiola revealed that Stones would still be missing from his defence, continuing his stint with fellow first-choice centre-back Ruben Dias on the sidelines.

However, barring the double injury blow, the Catalan coach confirmed that he had a fully fit squad at his disposal otherwise.

He briefly told reporters: “[Stones] is not ready. I think everyone else is fit [barring Dias].”

Stones was an unused substitute in Man City’s 4-0 FA Cup third-round rout against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

And he was then missing from the squad entirely for Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Southampton in the Carabao Cup, deemed not fully fit by the club.

City’s shock exit was the first of Guardiola’s coaching career at the quarter-final stage of a domestic cup.

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Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored a hat-trick each as City romped to a 6-3 triumph against United in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

But Guardiola is always wary of the Red Devils’ threat after suffering his fair share of defeats against them during his tenure as Blues boss.

He acknowledged that United were ‘close’ to getting back to their best under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who bettered his side three times in the 2019/20 season.

“It’s Man United,” Guardiola said. “With Ole, they were close. What happened in the previous seasons? I don’t know what happened. It’s normal United are there. Still there, fighting.

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“Nobody said they would be there. They are there because they have to be. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s why this competition is so difficult.”

Guardiola added that further improvement under Erik ten Hag was ‘clear’ this season and anticipates a high-quality game at Old Trafford.

He explained: “[United have improved] a lot, it’s normal, a new manager arrives. The improvement is clear. Not just results. I have the feeling every time at Old Trafford or the Etihad, it’s been a difficult game.

“They always are attractive games. Both teams want to try to win the game. There are a lot of quality players in both sides. Top-class managers. It will be a good game.”

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