Aguero and De Bruyne set to miss Blues clash
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.”