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Man City’s Player of the Year contender and Haaland freshness revelations – Every word from part two of Pep Guardiola’s Crystal Palace preview



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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon to take on Crystal Palace in the early kick-off this weekend.

City bounced back from the 0-0 draw with Arsenal by dismissing of Aston Villa through a comfortable 4-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium in midweek action, in a contest that saw Phil Foden take centre stage through a sensational hat-trick.

Foden’s three-goal haul moves the England international onto 31 goal contributions for the ongoing season, ranking just 2nd in the Manchester City squad and behind only star striker Erling Haaland.

Oliver Glasner’s side are Manchester City’s next opponents before a European heavyweight meeting with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, and the Premier League champions will be hoping to make amends for their draw with the Eagles back in December.

Speaking during the second part of his pre-match press conference, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been speaking to the media on a number of wide-ranging subjects, including the club’s Player of the Year contender.

On Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne not being ‘fresh’

“It all depends on the way we play. It will depend if we play the way we are going to play. If we play good, they will be fresh. If we play not good, they will not be fresh. It is nothing. They are physically good, they are fit, it’s not a problem. It’s how the team plays makes the individually play good, the opposite is not.”

On whether there is a connection between players that played both friendlies during the international break and being ruled out

“No, they were out because they were injured. That’s why I could not play them.”

On Erling Halaand saying Pep Guardiola told players he would come after them if they were not fresh after the international break

“What I said to the players, I said to the players, before and after they arrived. But in that case, Erling came back perfectly so not a problem, like he proved against Arsenal.”

On whether Crystal Palace (H) was a turning point for Phil Foden

“I think before Crystal Palace, all the season has been good, not just that. We talk about that, he’s learned the lesson. In the 18-yard box is always a danger, we saw that last night with Chelsea and United. You have to be careful. Phil and everyone learned a lesson, it’s not a problem because it happens, it’s football, it’s life.

“People do good things and mistakes is part of that, it’s just learn… learn for the future than do it again. I think Phil, since then, is really good after we travelled to Saudi Arabia and he played a really good two games in the semi-final and final. But before always, I think Phil has got a good level this season.”

On Phil Foden’s improvements off-the-ball and composer

“Always has an incredible work ethic. You see the last game he played? He was fouled, it was not given. Go down, stand up, press, recover ball, net. Always, Phil had that since day one when he was 16 or 17 years old training, having an incredible dynamic, and still he has it. So, of course, football depends, like I said before to your colleague, it depends on the performance of your mates. How you move depends on the decisions of your mates, you have to take a decision quicker and smarter and this, of course, has margin to improve.

On Phil Foden being a contender for Premier League Player of the Year

“I think he is a contender, like many others. There are many, many players who have played really, really good all season, not just Phil. But I think he can be a contender, for sure, for the numbers, the consistency, the level of his game.”

On Arsenal having more pressure after last season, and Liverpool having pressure because of Jurgen Klopp’s last year

“I don’t know. I know you ask me about what the others think and I don’t know. I’m not in Jurgen’s mind or Mikel’s mind. I always admire them for the way they play all season, consistency in the last years, especially Liverpool, and since last year Arsenal.

“So, I don’t know. It’s difficult for them, it’s difficult for us… it’s easy for them, it’s easy for us because we are winning the last five or six, so we could say it’s easier because we know what to do, I don’t know, it can be difficult because in the last five or six years won we could be relaxed.

“Maybe it’s difficult for them because it’s 20 years not winning, maybe it’s easier because they have the desire to do it. It depends what they have in their minds. I said in the first sentence to the question, I don’t know because I don’t know what they think.”

On whether people underestimate how difficult it is to get over the line in the Premier League because Manchester City make it look so easy

“I don’t know. I understand your question, I understand completely what you what to say. But what do people think? I don’t ask the people. I don’t go to the street and knock the doors, ‘what do you think? what do you think? what do you think?’, so honestly, I don’t know. We know how difficult it is, only that’s for sure, not this season but the previous ones.

“People say ‘no, it’s easy for Man City’, no it’s so really complicated and difficult to win not just one title. To win the Carabao Cup is difficult. The level is so high, we prove it all the games, every game is difficult and in that period especially. Every team plays for something, for the champion, to qualify for Champions League, to go to Europa League, to go to Confernce one, to not be relegated, for the pride, for many reasons.

“Every game, all the teams play for something. It’s really, really difficult and everything can happen in minutes. Whether the people underestimate or not… honestly, I don’t know and I couldn’t care less, it doesn’t matter, it’s what we think and what we have to do. We know that the Premier League every season is tougher and tougher for the level of the contenders…”

On Phil Foden being on the bench in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League last season pushing him further now

“Last season Gundo was here, he’s not here. Kevin unfortunately had been five months out. Two important roles in the middle was not there. Julian plays a lot this season when that season with Erling… and especially Phill, Gundo and Kevin play less or… what happened in the last season is completely different and for many reasons.

“Players in, players out, levels, injuries, moods, performances. That’s why the players don’t say. ‘What happened last season is going to happen this season’… it does not make sense. Every season, every game is different, so imagine season by season.”

Does he still think the Premier League is the most important competition

“I love it… the domestic trophy is the important one. The Premier League or La Liga… I’m not going to say the UCL is not nice, of course it is. Now we have it and we know what it means in our soul and our peace, you know, for the fact we got it. But it’s more difficult with more games, every week two or three games.

“Every week, every week, every week. The UCL, of course it’s important, but it depends more on something maybe you cannot control. Both are incredibly important, but the PL is… it proves a lot. It means the mentality of the teams, being there all the time for many, many years. For me personally, for me and my education at home or whatever, it’s to be every day you have to do the best, so that means a lot to us and to me personally.

On being able to go level with Liverpool at 12:30

“Listen, from my experience in the past when we are playing Liverpool especially, and we play some days before, sometimes after, the result and outcome is the same – so we have to win, so nothing changes much. So 12:30, we will play another day later, we have to win the same. We distract, but you have to do and we might do unless Crystal Palace win the game.”

On Real Madrid being a big game but players being able to focus on Crystal Palace

“We’ve always been like the that. When we won the treble last season, or arrive in semi-finals, always we were like that. If we were 18 points in front of second in the Premier League then I would take two eyes to Madrid, but it’s not the case. We are third and not far away from top of the league but if we drop points it will be almost impossible so we have to win that game. After we have more time, not for the recovery but to prepare… We are 10 or nine months fighting for the Premier League, why should we be distracted right now with this important game against Crystal Palace when the distance is so close.”

On whether Stefan Ortega’s form makes the no.1 decision more difficult when Ederson returns

“Yes, Stefan is playing really good, so we have to think about it as well. I’ll speak with Xavier, maybe we give a little more time, maybe not, we’ll see tonight and tomorrow. But, we have the guarantee. Of course Scott is important third keeper and important for many reasons, but Eddie and Stefen… we are so safe because both are exceptional keepers, exceptional.”