Football

Pep peeved by tight scheduling

City chief hints that tight scheduling causes EPL sides to fare poorly
in Europe

Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City side for balancing their domestic and Champions League ambitions, but hinted that unhelpful scheduling was costing 
English teams in Europe.

City drew a key group match in Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-1 last Wednesday and were back in action at Burnley in the early game last Saturday at Turf Moor.

Champions League sides in other European countries often get more rest time either side of continental clashes, but the demands of television mean that is not the case in the Premier League.

Speaking after a narrow 2-1 win over the Clarets, Guardiola hinted that the fixture list was a factor in EPL sides' poor showing in Europe.

"What happened to English teams in the last decade is your (England's) problem, you have to analyse, not me," he said.

"We are not the only ones, it happens to all teams. I'm not a guy who complains so much, believe me.

"It's happened... what can I do? Call the federation? No. They are going to change? No.

EARLY GAME

"Okay, they put 12.30pm (8.30pm, Singapore time) so we have to be here, play at 12.30 and, if you lose, congratulations Burnley and keep going.

"They (Burnley) are here one week, working, planning mentally for this game. You have hours, after the (midweek) game, you cannot speak about Burnley, you have to rest their minds."

Guardiola now has the rare luxury of a full week to prepare for Saturday's home game against league leaders Chelsea, followed by a Champions League game against Celtic four days later.

With no European commitments, the Blues and second-placed Liverpool have a week to prepare for league fixtures regularly, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by Guardiola.

"That's why I'm so satisfied. We'll have played eight more games - terrible games - in the Champions League than Chelsea and Liverpool and we are there.

"That's why the first part of the season is so satisfying.

"Playing seven, eight more games in the Champions League after going to Stoke and to West Brom, and to still be with Liverpool and Chelsea when they don't play in Europe is good for us."

Yaya Toure has not always been on the same page as Guardiola since the latter arrived in the summer but, after the second game of his unexpected first-team comeback, the 33-year-old midfielder picked up a similar theme.

"This Chelsea side play one time a week, it is easier to prepare well, to recover well, to take full advantage of recovery," he said.

"This week, we played Wednesday and after that straight away on Saturday.

FOCUS

"Sometimes, it is tough to be focused again... You have to be mentally and physically prepared to compete."

Toure spent the first part of the season out in the cold and is not even registered for Europe but now appears to have a role to play in the league campaign.

With no shortage of candidates to take Leicester's crown, the Ivorian does not expect the competition to ease off any time soon.

Asked if Chelsea were now his side's main title-rivals, he said: "To be honest, they're Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham... Manchester United.

"This season's league is unpredictable and it's going to be decided in the last two or three months." 
- PA Sport.

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