Pep Guardiola insists that Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle is their ‘final’, and he will rotate his side against Chelsea accordingly.
City have beaten Arsenal and Burnley in the last seven days, and take on Chelsea knowing dropped points could finally hand Liverpool the Premier League title.
Guardiola will already be without Sergio Aguero, and Eric Garcia is likely to miss out after suffering concussion in the Arsenal game. To add to the injury list, Guardiola revealed his squad are nursing some muscle injuries and knocks ahead of the Chelsea game.
“We have an advantage that there is five days between [the Arsenal and Burnley games] but the team still isn’t fit. I don’t know when they’ll be perfectly fit with a few players playing every few days for 90 minutes.
“We have some disturbing muscular problems and some kicks from the last game. You have to avoid the injuries to arrive two important games – Newcastle on Sunday and especially Madrid. We can qualify mathematically for the Champions League, we’re in a good position.”
The FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday is also playing on Guardiola’s mind, with the competition becoming City’s next priority after failing to retain the Premier League title.
Dropped points against either Chelsea on Thursday or Liverpool next week will see the Merseysiders seal the title, but Guardiola insists he will aim to field his strongest XI at St James’ Park.
He continued: “We can’t deny that we have one eye on Newcastle. Chelsea and Liverpool are prestigious but Newcastle is our game. A final. We have one eye.
“It depends on physical condition, the minutes they have played. We take a look a little bit at what is going to happen, not just Chelsea.”