Pep Guardiola has labelled Manchester City’s January fixture schedule ‘terrible’ despite potentially playing just as many games as fellow top-four challengers Newcastle United.
City reclaimed second spot from Newcastle on Wednesday after comfortably beating Leeds United at Elland Road. Guardiola’s side are now two points ahead of the Magpies as both clubs look to try and rein Arsenal at the top of the table.
The Citizens will play a minimum of six games in January, including clashes with Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Wolves in the league. They must also face Chelsea in the FA Cup and Southampton in the League Cup quarter-final.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have the same hectic schedule to deal with in the New Year by facing Arsenal, Fulham, Crystal Palace and West Ham in the league, as well as Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester in the FA and Carabao Cup respectively.
Should both Newcastle and City be successful in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, they will have an extra two games at the end of the month for the semi-final of the competition. Something Pep is fretting about.
“We have Leeds and then it’s non-stop,” he said before his side’s win over Leeds United. “Our schedule in January is terrible in terms of the number of games and the quality of the opponents.
“So we have to restart. This is what we did against Liverpool [in the EFL Cup] and hopefully, we can continue.”
Guardiola has already admitted he is concerned Newcastle could cause problems for City towards the business end of the season. The Spaniard recently heaped praise on the Tyneside outfit and Eddie Howe’s performance to date.
“Phewww, they are a contender, a contender to be there,” Guardiola said in October. “The manager is Eddie Howe and you know how good he is. With the new players that come. And the way they play, brave,” he said.
“There will be a lot of teams fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the title. Look now, Newcastle is another part of this, is already there.”