Man City vs Liverpool result: No Haaland, no problem against Klopp’s flaky team
By James Ducker
Pep Guardiola has admitted he may gamble on Erling Haaland’s fitness against Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime as Manchester City bid to close the gap on leaders Arsenal.
As Phil Foden was ruled out for up to three weeks following surgery to have his appendix removed, City are sweating on the fitness of Haaland ahead of the visit of Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium.
Haaland missed Norway’s European Championship qualifying match against Spain and Georgia after complaining of groin trouble in City’s final game before the international break, the 6-0 FA Cup win over Burnley when he scored a hat-trick.
Guardiola said he had been encouraged by a conversation with Haaland on Thursday when the Norway striker said he “feels good” and has not ruled out risking his 42-goal top scorer against Jurgen Klopp’s men. City will move to within five points of Arsenal with a victory.
Asked if he was prepared to risk Haaland, the City manager said on Friday: “The doctors and especially the player will decide, how does he feel … yesterday I spoke to him and he feels good. But we’ll see what happens, life is risks in these stages and you have to take it.
“He’s scored an incredible amount of goals but in the past we have always scored a lot of goals in the season.
“Erling is recovering. We’ll see this afternoon – last training is at 4pm and we will see how he feels.”
Having pipped Liverpool to the Premier League title for the second time in four seasons last May, Guardiola has seen Klopp’s team fall away this term. Liverpool currently trail City by 19 points but Guardiola says such setbacks can happen to any side, including his own.
“Always I think it can happen,” he said. “I never think or overestimate me so much or the team, that it’s not going to happen. This can happen. I’ve said many times that the team who wins the Premier League, the year after [can] not even qualify for the Europa League.
“What happened to Liverpool this season [can happen] or another case – Chelsea or another team in the top six. It can happen to us, absolutely.
“When it happens – try to find a solution as soon as possible and try to avoid it. If it happens, two or three weeks and the fourth week try to find a solution. When it happens, accept the storm and always tomorrow the sun rises.
“The only thing I believe is: don’t complain, find solutions and try to avoid it but knowing this can happen.”