City keeper Bravo out for rest of season
Pep Guardiola has revealed Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will miss the rest of the season with a calf injury.
Bravo, who has endured an inconsistent season since arriving from Barcelona last August, was taken off on a stretcher after sustaining the injury against Manchester United on April 27.
City manager Guardiola has confirmed the problem will keep the Chilean out of his side’s remaining four Premier League matches, with Willy Caballero set to continue against Crystal Palace on Saturday, while third-choice Angus Gunn sits on the bench.
However, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and John Stones are all likely to play some part during the run-in as fourth placed City chase a spot in the Champions League.
Aguero, who has a calf injury, and Stones, struggling with a muscle problem, are likely to return against Leicester next weekend, as is playmaker Silva, who has returned to full training after two weeks out with knee trouble.
“Bravo isn’t coming back until next season, John maybe will in the last games,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“Sergio is not fit. Hopefully he will be for the next one but for this game, no. He is not fit.
“Yesterday was David’s first training session. I don’t know if he will be ready for tomorrow. No, after the reaction in the semi-final of the FA Cup, he’s still not perfect.”
Three of City’s final four matches are at home, and they may need to win all four games to ensure a place in next season’s Champions League.
Since winning their first 10 games under Guardiola, City have won four successive matches just once, although that run started with an FA Cup win at Saturday’s opponents Palace in late January.
City have won only eight of their 16 home league games this season, and Guardiola has suggested that their record at Eastlands must improve in order to secure a top four finish.
– So complicated –
“It’s still in our hands if we are able to win the four games. But that’s so complicated,” he said.
“Since the beginning of the season, when we won 10 games, we have been able to win four games in a row only once.
“I know how tough Crystal Palace are. They beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
“We have Leicester, the last champions. Then we have West Brom and Tony Pulis, who are always complicated but it is in our hands.
“We will see if we are able to make our step forward to qualify. If we win all four games we will definitely be in the Champions League and maybe in the third position. It depends on us.
“Our home games have not been perfect this season. We have to change it in three home games if we want to play in the Champions League next season.”
Guardiola has suggested City’s failure to mount a title challenge this season is a result of their failure to grasp the direct nature of English football.
As the City manager put it, “nothing happens in the middle” in the Premier League, with most teams keen to get the ball into the penalty area quickly rather than play a more patient style.
“For the first two months, we were good, then we were inconsistent. So over the season, we were more inconsistent than consistent,” he said.
“In the boxes, we were not good, and in this league, everything happens in the boxes. In other leagues, the people in the middle take care of the process. Here, nothing happens in the middle.
“We were not strong in that way and that is why we have suffered this season.”