Pep Guardiola has responded to comments from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel that Manchester City have been ‘lucky’ with COVID cases.
Van Dijk spoke earlier this month when he suggested that City’s lack of injuries and positive coronavirus cases had helped them in the Premier League title race.
The Liverpool star said : “City got through the month of December particularly well. They had few injuries and few corona cases and that helps enormously.
“A small example is that me, Fabinho and Thiago all tested positive for Covid at the same time: three players who are important to the team.
“A big club like Liverpool still has good quality players, but the rhythm and dynamics of the team changes at such a time.
“There are still so many games to play – but you also need a bit of luck at this stage.”
City now stand 10 points clear of second-placed Chelsea at the top and 11 clear of third-placed Liverpool, who do have a game in-hand.
And Guardiola’s defending champions could extend their already commanding advantage to 13 points if they beat Chelsea in Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off at the Etihad.
And before the game, Tuchel said: “They have dealt better with injuries and Covid.
“Maybe it’s luck or they do it better. They have had less injuries and less weeks they missed them. They did not suffer from Covid as we did over many weeks, this is the huge difference.”
Guardiola was asked about what Tuchel and Van Dijk said in the embargoed section of his press conference to preview the match with Chelsea.
And he said: “The situation is all around the world. We have injuries, we have COVID. Maybe we don’t say which ones or how many. But we had a lot, lot of players with COVID, a lot, lot in the backroom staff with COVID, and at the beginning of the season we had a lot of incredibly tough injuries to our players.
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“So what can I say? If they believe we are lucky, okay we are lucky, thank you. Thank you.
“What can I say? The pandemic is all around the world. Everywhere is the virus. We are exposed every single day, every single minute to get it. So we are not an exception.
“If they believe it’s the reason why (City are 10 points clear), maybe. Sometimes it’s the money that we have, sometimes it’s the COVID.
“I don’t know. Maybe.”