Aguero and De Bruyne set to miss Blues clash

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Football - ANDY HAMP­SON Foot­ball writer

SER­GIO Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been ruled out of Manch­ester City’s Premier League clash at Chelsea to­day.

Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, has not fea­tured in the cham­pi­ons’ last two games due to what was ini­tially de­scribed as a mi­nor mus­cle prob­lem and he will again not be risked to­day ei­ther.

De Bruyne, who scored the win­ner against his for­mer club at Stam­ford Bridge last sea­son, has missed most of the cam­paign so far with knee problems. When the Bel­gian suf­fered his lat­est set­back early in Novem­ber it was thought he could have an out­side chance of re­turn­ing to face the Lon­don­ers, but that has proved too op­ti­mistic.

Speak­ing at his pre-match press con­fer­ence, man­ager Pep Guardi­ola said: “Both can­not play to­mor­row. Both will be back soon.”

Chelsea have slipped to fourth in the ta­ble, ten points be­hind lead­ers City, af­ter los­ing two of their last three games, but Guardi­ola sees it as a tough time to be play­ing them.

He said: “Al­ways Stam­ford Bridge is dif­fi­cult. I’ve trav­elled there many times as a man­ager and won once – last sea­son. Most of the time I lose.

“They are a good side, a re­ally good team. You see the level of peo­ple on the bench – they don’t play reg­u­larly but they are ex­cel­lent play­ers. They are a real con­tender, an ex­cel­lent team. How are they go­ing to re­act af­ter los­ing two games? I can imag­ine how in­tense, how ag­gres­sive and how com­mit­ted they will be. That’s why it’s a good test for us”

Guardi­ola’s op­po­site num­ber Maurizio Sarri has spo­ken of City in com­pli­men­tary terms ahead of the game, de­scrib­ing them as “the best team in Europe, maybe the best in the world”.

Guardi­ola was too mod­est to agree. “Thank you, but we are not the best,” he said. “To be the best we have to win the ti­tles and we did not win the ti­tles to be the best in the world.”

Guardi­ola feels Tues­day’s 2-1 win at Wat­ford, when City en­dured a nervy fin­ish af­ter dom­i­nat­ing early on, un­der­lines this point.

He said: “We could have dropped two points in the last ten min­utes. Af­ter 2-0 we were not the best side. There are many things we can do bet­ter and to­mor­row we have a very de­mand­ing test for us.”

Guardi­ola has been im­pressed by the work of Sarri so far in his first sea­son at Chelsea.

He said: “He needs time. Maybe they are not play­ing 90 min­utes, but when they play good for 50, 60, 70, 75 min­utes they are ex­cel­lent.”

■ Arse­nal de­fender Rob Hold­ing is set to miss the rest of the sea­son af­ter the club an­nounced he has sus­tained cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment dam­age.

The worst was feared af­ter Hold­ing suf­fered the in­jury dur­ing the first half of Wed­nes­day’s 2-2 draw with Manch­ester United at Old Traf­ford and has now been con­firmed.

A state­ment from Arse­nal read: “We can con­firm Rob Hold­ing has rup­tured the an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment of his left knee. He will un­dergo surgery to re­pair this in the com­ing days. The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process is ex­pected to take be­tween six to nine months. Ev­ery­one will now be work­ing as hard as we can to en­sure Rob is back as soon as pos­si­ble.”

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