MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit out at the amount of games played in the Premier League over the festive period, saying the schedule is going to "kill" the players.
City was one of the teams to play four games in 11 days across Christmas and the new year, with the last two matches — away to Crystal Palace and at home to Watford — coming just two days apart.
"What I saw, what everybody sees, in the last weeks is how many injuries the players have," Guardiola said. "We are going to kill them (the players). The federation — whoever the bosses are –have to reflect. It’s not normal."
Guardiola’s ire might have been caused by the sight of right back Kyle Walker holding his groin in the final minutes of the 3-1 win over Watford on Tuesday. The City coach said Walker "might have a little bit of a problem."
City lost striker Gabriel Jesus to a ligament injury early in the 0-0 draw at Palace on Sunday that will keep him out for up to six weeks.
"I know the show must go on and it doesn’t matter with which guys the show must go on," Guardiola said.
"Here in England, you don’t protect the players — that is a big mistake. You have to do it for the quality, not quantity. Play every three, four, five days, but not every two days … Look at how many players have muscular injuries in this period. But it doesn’t matter; the show must go on. And that’s why there will be players not fit."
Guardiola’s comments came as Palace’s Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon were ruled out for the remainder of the season. Manager Roy Hodgson said both players had suffered cruciate ligament injuries in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with City.
"We won’t see anything of those players for the rest of our season and it is going to be hard for them to get ready even for the start of next season, because these are serious injuries," Hodgson said after Palace’s 2-1 win at Southampton on Tuesday.