Guardiola scoffs at Liverpool star Van Dijk and Chelsea coach Tuchel over Man City claims

Pep Guardiola has responded to the latest explanation offered for Manchester City’s Premier League domination.

Manchester City lead the Premier League table by ten points ahead of second-placed Chelsea’s visit to the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola has overseen 11 straight league victories, with Manchester City one of only four clubs to have fulfilled all 21 of their fixtures so far.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel recently cited this as one of the main reasons for the defending champions being able to pull clear again, saying: “They did not suffer from Covid as we did over many weeks, so this is a huge difference.”

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk echoed that sentiment, claiming that “you also need a bit of luck at this stage”.

“City got through the month of December particularly well,” he said. “They had few injuries and few corona cases and that helps enormously.

“A small example is that me, Fabinho and Thiago all tested positive for Covid at the same time: three players who are important to the team. A big club like Liverpool still has good quality players, but the rhythm and dynamics of the team changes at such a time.”

Guardiola dismissed this theory, however, pointing out that Manchester City have had outbreaks – the Spaniard himself had to sit out their FA Cup third-round tie – but still played their games.

“If they believe it’s the reason why then maybe, maybe,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the money that we have, sometimes it’s Covid. I don’t know. What can I say?

“But the pandemic is all around the world and everywhere there is the virus. We are exposed every single minute and day to getting it.

“We have had a lot of cases and injuries. We played Aston Villa with 11 players in the first team.

“For the last six or seven games we’ve had four or five Academy players on the bench. We are in the same situation as all other clubs.

“It’s not like we are not wiser than others, or because we do the protocols better than the other ones, the virus comes to the bubble and everyone suffers, so we are no exception.

“Today we are OK but in a few hours we might have four or five positives. That is why we have to adapt, adjust, and work out what we have to do.

“The rest, the points we’ve got so far is down to the quality of the players, this is the main reason why.

“We try to play. If we have 11 or 12 players, it’s enough, we play. We have Cole Palmer, James McAtee and other players we try to play. We have enough players.

“I don’t know what counts. Is it just Covid or injuries? Injuries happen all the time so I don’t know the rules of the Premier League when it’s called off or cancelled.

“In many cases we’ve had just 12 first-team players available plus the keeper and we played.”

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