London: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his players do not lack motivation despite competing on multiple fronts this season and are more determined than ever to go to Wembley Stadium and lift the FA Cup.
City have a one-point lead over Liverpool in the Premier League and take on Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month after a meeting with Southampton in the last-eight of the FA Cup tomorrow.
Asked if he found it difficult to motivate his players for the Southampton clash due to their involvement in other major competitions, Guardiola said he respected the FA Cup and was determined to go all the way.
“How do you ask me this when in these six years we play every game like it was the last game of our lives?” the Spanish coach told reporters.
“I know how difficult it will be away at Southampton. I’m sorry, I trust a lot my team, my players. I know it looks like everything is gone but I trust a lot my players to arrive in every competition and be who we are. I want to do it with these players, I wouldn’t change one single player for the next two months.”
City will face Liverpool in the league on April 10, with the Merseyside club guaranteed to be champions if they win all their remaining fixtures.
But Guardiola, who lifted the FA Cup only once in 2018-19, said City’s immediate focus was on Southampton.
“In the Premier League we’re winning. Right now, our destiny is in our hands,” Guardiola added. “We’re closer in the FA Cup, I don’t count the competitions. I know how difficult it will be at Southampton.”
Liverpool star injured
Liverpool’s quest for a clean sweep of four major trophies this season has been dealt a blow with influential right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold set to be sidelined for weeks by a hamstring injury.
Alexander-Arnold will definitely miss tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final at Nottingham Forest and England’s upcoming friendlies against the Ivory Coast and Switzerland.
Of most concern for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, though, is whether he will be fit in time for both legs of his side’s Champions League quarter-final either side of a potential Premier League title decider away to Manchester City.
“Trent is out with a hamstring. He cannot be part of England as well so not good news, we will see how long that takes,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Asked if the 23-year-old will be sidelined for weeks, Klopp replied: “Yes.”
Alexander-Arnold already has a career-high 17 assists in all competitions this season and Klopp knows he does not have a like-for-like replacement with centre-back Joe Gomez or veteran James MIlner likely to deputise.
“To replace Trent is difficult, but possible,” added Klopp.
“The way he plays, I don’t know any player in the world who plays like Trent to be honest, that would be difficult to find a one-to-one replacement.”
Everton appeal rejected
Meanwhile, Everton have had two appeals against midfielder Allan’s red card in the 1-0 win over Newcastle rejected.
The Brazilian was shown a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson after bringing down Allan Saint-Maximin on Thursday.
But, after the video assistant referee (VAR) told him to review the foul on a monitor, Pawson upgraded it to red.
Everton said their “request to overturn that decision was rejected” along with “a second appeal to downgrade the ban for excessive punishment”.
Allan will now miss the Goodison Park club’s FA Cup quarter-final against Crystal Palace tomorrow, and Premier League games at West Ham and Burnley.
Middlesbrough v Chelsea
Crystal Palace v Everton
Nottingham Forrest v Liverpool
Southampton v Man City