Manchester City face Newcastle United in Saturday’s afternoon kick-off looking to follow up on a perfect home start two weeks ago against Huddersfield Town and return to winning ways after Wolves held the Champions at Molineux last weekend.
Newcastle proved to be stubborn opposition for the eventual Premier League champions last season, with City having to grind out a 1-0 win at St James Park before getting the job done with a little more comfort at the Etihad Stadium courtesy of a Sergio Aguero hat-trick.
Aguero will hope to add to his tally at the weekend, given his impressive goal scoring record against the Magpies.
Pep Guardiola will come up against the experienced Rafa Benitez and to address the Blues’ next fixture and other issues, the Catalan held his regular pre-match press conference this afternoon at the CFA.
He was first asked to respond to the Champions League draw, which saw Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim selected as City’s opponents. Pep doesn’t believe the group will be a walkover and will take the competition game by game.
“The Champions League every season is tougher and tougher,” said Pep. “The contenders and teams are much, much better. We will see. It depends on our performances.”
Asked about Manchester United and their struggles, Pep said he still believes they are a threat and that the ‘real’ season begins after the upcoming internationals when the fixture pile-up kicks in.
“Manchester United remain a great team, a top team. We’re just in August, so there are a lot of points to play for.
“After the international break, it’s the start of the real season in terms of [playing] every three days.”
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Pep Guardiola, but Pep sympathises with his current plight, one all managers go through.
“Our job depends on results. When we win, we are good. When we don’t win, we are not good.
“All the managers in the Premier League are top managers.”
Sergio Aguero smoking shisha on camera led to some headlines, but neither the club or Pep himself felt it was a big deal.
“I didn’t speak with him, it doesn’t bother me,” Guardiola said, shutting the topic down quickly.
There are no new fitness concerns heading into the Newcastle game, other than long-term absentees Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo.
“Everybody’s okay. Everybody’s fit.”
Finally, Pep confirmed that Douglas Luiz is returning to Girona FC for a second season on loan, a deal expected to be confirmed today. The City boss wasn’t sure what is happening with Brahim Diaz, who has also been linked with a move to Girona.
“Douglas Luiz is going to Girona to improve his quality.
“It is the last day (of the transfer window). We will decide (on Brahim).”
So there is a possibility of selling Luiz, as is the case with all players in the game nowadays such is the wealth of the big clubs around the world today. A new tool created by Know Your Money let’s you see how your club looks. It makes for very interesting reading. Although I do wonder if it can explain how the likes of Alexis Sanchez manages to take home a larger wage than Serio Aguero *chuckle*