Guardiola hopeful Haaland will be fit for Arsenal clash



Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted Erling Haaland is a doubt for Wednesday’s top-of-the-table clash against Arsenal after coming off at half-time in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

City shrugged off the uncertainty caused by a series of Premier League charges to close to within three points of Arsenal at the top of the table.

But victory came at a cost as the Premier League’s leading goalscorer appeared to pick up a thigh injury as he clashed with Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. “Haaland had a knock, he was uncomfortable,” said Guardiola. “At 3-0 we don’t want to take risks.

“We’ll see and assess in the next days. If he is not ready, we play another one. Hopefully he’s ready but we will see.”

A cloud is hanging over the English champions after the Premier League hit the club with more than 100 charges alleging breaches of financial rules dating as far back as 2009.

If found guilty, City could face a severe points deduction or even relegation from the top flight.

But Guardiola came out swinging in defence of the club’s hierarchy as he pointed the finger at jealous rivals for the accusations and his players followed him with a show of defiance on the field.

Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez all struck before half-time at the Etihad to edge ominously into Arsenal’s rear-view mirror.

The Gunners still have a game in hand, but City will now move to the top of the table should they win at the Emirates in midweek.

Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at home to Brentford on Saturday opened the door for City and unlike last weekend, when the defending champions missed the chance to pounce with defeat away to Tottenham, this time they made no mistake.—AFP