MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 2 – Pep Guardiola admits he is concerned about potential suspensions when leaders Manchester City face West Ham United looking to equal a Premier League record on Sunday.
Victory over West Ham would mark a 13th consecutive league victory for Guardiola’s team, equalling the record for the most straight wins in a single season, currently owned jointly by Chelsea last season and Arsenal in 2001-02.
That Arsenal team went on to win a 14th game at the beginning of the following campaign and, should they beat West Ham, City will have the chance to tie that record when they travel to Old Trafford to face title rivals Manchester United seven days later.
But three key players — midfielders Fernandinho and Leroy Sane, plus captain Vincent Kompany — are one yellow card away from earning suspensions that would rule them out of the eagerly-awaited Manchester derby.
And that has raised the prospect of Guardiola resting one or more of those players for struggling West Ham’s visit to Eastlands.
“We will see tomorrow in the training sessions what we will do. Of course they can play or rest,” said Guardiola, whose side are eight points clear at the top.
“Vincent Kompany was two months injured, he played a game then again three days later.
“Fernandinho played a lot of minutes but this is an important game, we can’t think about United.
“I’m worried about the bookings but West Ham as well. We’ll see the team.
“The last game we didn’t play David Silva from the beginning, I rotated and maybe I will again. Nine games in one month is a lot.”
City will be hoping for a more routine victory against West Ham than in their last three games, all of which have required late winning goals from Raheem Sterling, who has already topped his best ever goalscoring season with 13.
– Social issues –
The City manager has been keen to credit Sterling for his dramatic improvement, but believes the England winger taking his advice and limiting his use of social media has been a key factor.
“If the reason why he’s scored a lot of goals is because he’s out of social media then I’ll say it to all the players!” said Guardiola.
“Before he was more active (on social media) and now he’s more passive.
“Of course, they are free to do whatever they want but after that, they have 30 million comments and you can’t avoid it, people criticise you because you show a picture.
“If you want to do it, fine. But people can criticise your family because of how they dress.
“Enjoy it for yourself and nobody needs to know what they are doing in their private lives. There is no rule but we have our advice as a club.”
David Moyes has endured a difficult start to life at West Ham and heads to City still looking for a first win in his fourth game since taking charge.
“I was hoping it would be a bit easier, to be honest,” he said.
“In football you just never know. It’s a big task and a big job, but it’s a good challenge and they have good players here.
“I think we’ll be OK. We have got a good team.”
The Hammers’ prospects of getting something from the game haven’t been helped by a lengthy injury list.
Jose Fonte, James Collins, Sam Byram, Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez are all sidelined.
West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart is ineligible to face parent club City, opening the door for Adrian to start.