December 7, 2021

Aguero faces fitness test as Pep says PL entering phase two

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Sergio Aguero faces a late fitness test ahead of Manchester City’s game against West Brom on Tuesday, as Pep Guardiola says the Premier League fixture calendar’s next phase should now benefit teams involved in Europe.

Guardiola will decide on Tuesday morning whether Aguero is fit to face West Brom later in the day after he returned to training on Monday.

Aguero was due to make his return from injury in Saturday’s goalless Manchester derby against United but instead missed the game due to gastroenteritis.

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-0 MANCHESTER CITY 2:51
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s draw against Manchester City in the Premier League

“Today he was training but in the last two or three days he could not train so we will decide tomorrow,” Guardiola said.

‘New phase of fixtures will even out PL playing field’

The Man City manager believes the ‘new phase’ of the Premier League fixture calendar, which sees all teams play midweek games until February due to the break in European competition, should benefit City and other sides involved in the Champions League and Europa League.

Guardiola feels those teams have so far played the campaign under “different conditions” and may benefit from a more level playing field.

“Yes. I completely agree,” he replied when asked if he thinks Man City’s fortunes could improve over the coming weeks.

Pep Guardiola
Image: Pep Guardiola suggested Man City’s fortunes could improve due to the more balanced domestic fixture list over the festive period

“In the Premier League so far the teams in Europe play in different conditions to the others and now everyone plays the same amount of games until February. We are lucky, of course, to play in Europe but now is the time to play games.

“In my experience, every season we play the Champions League to the latter stages so I am used to playing more part of the season with less recovery than the others.

“We accept because it means you are playing in the bigger stages. Right now with how it happened all around the world the recovery doesn’t matter as much.”

‘Laporte has to stay ready’

Aymeric Laporte
Image: Aymeric Laporte has not started a Premier League game since November 21

Guardiola said Eric Garcia and Oleksandr Zinchenko remain sidelined but he otherwise has a fully-fit squad to choose from.

One key decision could come at the back, with Aymeric Laporte having not started a Premier League game since November 21 due in large part to the return of John Stones, who has helped City keep a string of clean sheets.

“It depends on performances and John is performing well, that is why he is playing,” Guardiola said.

“But there are a lot of games and everyone has to be ready. Maybe they are not playing much but around the corner they may have a chance and they have to be ready.”