Guardiola says Man City are not ready for punishing Premier League return

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's mother died from coronavirus

Pep Guardiola fears his Manchester City players are not ready for the gruelling demands of the Premier League restart.

Guardiola's reigning champions host Arsenal behind closed doors on Wednesday in the second game of the Premier League's return to action following the coronavirus hiatus.

City play again on Monday when Burnley come to the Etihad Stadium and the pace does not drop until the planned end of the season in late July.

City manager Guardiola is concerned about the workload his players will be subjected to, with Premier League chiefs determined to play the remaining 92 matches in less than six weeks.

He told reporters in a video press conference on Tuesday that the Arsenal match would show the level of his players' fitness after three months of inaction.

"What we were worried about over the (past) three weeks is with the incredible lack of preparation, like other teams in the Premier League, not like for example in Germany or in Spain, where they worked five or six weeks," he said.

"All the teams in the Premier League, they had just three weeks or three-and-a-half weeks. We know it is not enough but it is what it is."

Guardiola said the punishing schedule, with matches every few days, was a concern, adding that he would have to rotate and use his full squad.

"You can play a game after three weeks on holiday but we were two (months) of holidays lying on the sofa doing nothing much," he added. "That is why the players are not fully fit.

"But we have to start, we have to finish the season because of the damage economically for all the clubs."

- 'Difficult time' -

Since the Premier League went into lockdown in March, Guardiola's mother Dolors Sala Carrio has died, aged 82, after contracting the coronavirus.

"All the people who lost family or friends, it was a difficult time, but that's why we have the family to be together, to stay strong with all of us," he said.

"The health of the people is important but at the end, the Premier League, like in Spain and Germany, decided we have to play and we are going to play."

City, who resume 25 points behind leaders Liverpool, will welcome back Guardiola's former assistant Mikel Arteta for the first time since he took charge of Arsenal in December.

The Premier League was suspended on March 13 after Arteta contracted coronavirus.

"We are delighted he will come back, especially we have the feeling he is happy there. We sent a message an hour and a half ago," Guardiola said.

"It was about the wine we are going to drink after the game if social distance allows."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is concerned about the demands on his players