'Fixture pile-up could kill us' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 04, 2018

'Fixture pile-up could kill us'

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."

AGUERO HAPPY TO SEE OUT CONTRACT

Despite scoring, Aguero says he would like to see out his present contract with Manchester City which runs until 2020.

The 29-year-old striker had been rumoured to be unhappy at not always being a first-choice starter.

However, he looks set for a long run in the starting line-up with Brazil youngster Gabriel Jesus suffering a knee ligament injury in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

"I have until 2020, I think," said Aguero regarding his contract. "The truth is that I hope to see out my contract and I'll try to do my best from here until the end of the season, and after that we will see what happens with me," added Aguero, who is City's all-time leading scorer and netted his 185th goal for the club in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Watford.

He insists he would like to stay at the club but accepted that it was not his decision.

"The truth is I'm very happy here but, as always, as I said before, the club has the last word," said Aguero.

"They're the only ones who decide, because obviously the club is the one who makes the decisions, they are the ones who say you have to go or have to stay, so I'll respect whatever they tell me."

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