Kuala Lumpur Post


Man City’s Stones, Walker ruled out of clash against Arsenal

MANCHESTER — Manchester City will be without defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones when they host Arsenal in a crucial Premier League showdown on Sunday after both were injured on international duty.

“It is what it is,” manager Pep Guardiola told reporters today.

On the plus side for City fans, goalkeeper Ederson, who missed City’s FA Cup quarterfinal match against Newcastle United on March 16 is doing “much, much better,” Guardiola said.

England’s Walker and Stones picked up their injuries during the recent international break, with Walker’s injury more serious than Stones’, Guardiola said.

The manager was guarded when asked how he felt about Stones playing for England having suffered injuries earlier this season, saying, “I haven’t got any comments about that.”

City are third in the table on 63 points with 10 matches remaining in what is set to be a thrilling finale to the title race.

A point separates the top three teams after 28 matches of the season for the first time since 2014, with Arsenal and Liverpool on 64 points and the Gunners leading on goal difference. Liverpool can provisionally climb top of the table earlier on Sunday with a victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield.

Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has trained this week and is expected to play despite the groin issue that saw him withdraw from the Belgium squad that drew 2-2 with England on Tuesday.

“Kevin is a really important player, it has been a tough season for him,” Guardiola said of De Bruyne, who missed five months earlier this season recovering from hamstring surgery. “He trained really well yesterday, so we will see what we’re going to do next (couple of) days.”

While Sunday’s match is the last direct clash between any of the top three teams, Guardiola said it holds no more importance than any of the other remaining fixtures.

“Right now, every game is so important. The next game will be important as well,” he said.

City are unbeaten in the league since Dec 6 but have drawn two of their last five, including a 1-1 draw at Liverpool earlier this month. Arsenal have won eight successive matches, and have scored an astounding 33 goals in the process.

The encounter is expected to be much tighter than Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad last season when they were thrashed 4-1 as eventual champions City took control in the title race. — Reuters