Manchester City begin their defence of the Premier League on Sunday with traditionally one of the trickest away days of the season at Arsenal.
It pits Pep Guardiola up against a manager who has yet to register a win over him, the new Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who has reshaped the Gunners in all departments since replacing Arsene Wenger in the summer.
Pep spoke to the press this afternoon to share some of his thoughts ahead of the weekend opener.
The big news leading into the Arsenal game is that Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, who returned to training after the Community Shield win over Chelsea, are available for selection on Sunday.
“Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne are available. They arrived (on Monday) in perfect condition.” Pep revealed about the star duo.
Guardiola said City couldn’t spend much this summer after the accelerated investment of the last two years, but is happy with his squad – and hinted that the Blues will be more active next year in the market.
“They showed me in two seasons, especially the last one, that we can trust them. We believe that we have a good squad.
“We can not spend every season, I’m so happy with the team we have. Last season I said one player, maybe two (signings). That is the truth, we couldn’t spend more than we have done this season.
“Maybe next season, we’ll go to the transfer window a little more active.”
Riyad Mahrez was the one big signing of the summer and Pep said the Algerian is settling in well.
has settled in well. He knows the league so thats good. Football players connect immediately with him, he was introduced and got on with them and after two or three days he was just another member.
City have been dubbed the title favourites, the Ivan Drago, going into the season, with Jurgen Klopp saying City are the top pick for the title – but Pep is used to the pressure and seemed unconcerned.
“I’ve had that situation for 9 years, it’s not a problem. Thank you Jurgen – you’re so kind!”
Pep confirmed reports from Brazil that Douglas Luiz has been denied a work permit and seemed displeased about the decision.
“I am so sad and disappointed for Douglas. I think he is a player with a huge capacity to play with us. We wanted the work permit because we believe he can play. They didn’t know him, not one game, not one training session.”
“The manager of Brazil (Tite) and myself know more than the guy who made the decision, someone who has never seen him play a game or do a training session. I am so sad.
“I would prefer it wasn’t announced yesterday – if they decide 10, 15 days ago, maybe tell me then, then I can decide what to do.”
Arsenal away presents an immediate challenge for Guardiola and his men, and Pep was full of praise for their new boss Unai Emery.
“He’s an excellent manager. What he achieved in Sevilla, winning three Europa Leagues in a row – he’s excellent. It’s good for the Premier League.”
Finally, Guardiola completely denied claims from the AFA that an offer was made for him to coach Argentina, appearing unhappy in particular with Chiqui Tapia’s suggestion that they had been priced out.
“The president doesn’t know anything about my situation. In any case, the Argentina manager should be Argentinian and there are a lot of good coaches.”
Manchester City have launched the 2018/19 away kit!
Pick up the Wembley 1999 inspired strip at the City Store!