Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will be ready for 'extraordinary' Newcastle

City, who secured their fourth trophy this year after winning the Super Cup midweek, face the Magpies on Saturday

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after winning the Uefa Super Cup against Sevilla in Athens on August 16, 2023. EPA
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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists he his players will be ready for the challenge of taking on “extraordinary” Newcastle United on Saturday.

The treble winners secured their fourth trophy this year on Wednesday when they defeated Sevilla in the Uefa Super Cup after a penalty shoot-out in Athens.

That only gave City a coupe of days preparation time for the match against Eddie Howe's side, who started their season with a 5-1 demolition of Aston Villa last weekend.

That impressive performance came on the back of last season's fourth-place finish and Guardiola was full of praise for the Magpies and urged home fans to get behind City at the Etihad Stadium.

“They are a Champions League team. If you are in there, you are a really good team. In a short time, since the takeover, I get the feeling they are going to be there for a long, long time.

“Eddie Howe has created a fantastic team in possession, transition and build-up, set pieces. They control everything; it'll be a massive test for us but we are there for that.

“It is a challenge to prove ourselves again. It is never easy in sport, but we need that. Overcoming problems is what defines whether you are a good team or not.

“We need our people more than ever; we cannot be in a stadium looking at how good we are because what we've done before. Tomorrow we need them, from the first minute they'll be important.

“[Newcastle] are an extraordinary team. They continue to do really well for a couple of seasons and they've bought perfect players for the way they play.”

Guardiola also believes Newcastle can challenge for the Premier League title this season, if they can cope with the addition of midweek European games to their schedule.

Last campaign, the Tyneside club only had domestic competition to worry about but now their squad must deal with the burden of Champions League games as well.

“Playing three times a week is different to once a week; if they can handle the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, they are contenders,” said the Spaniard, whose team won 3-0 at Burnley in their season opener.

Guardiola confirmed that defender John Stones will miss the game with a muscular injury but is unsure how long he will be unavailable for, while Ruben Dias might be available.

City will also be without Kevin de Bruyne with the Belgian midfielder potentially out of action for five months after a recurrence of the hamstring injury at Burnley that caused him to limp out of the Champions League final win over Inter Milan.

Guardiola says he has no doubts over the quality of Cole Palmer as he looks for ways to cover for the absence of his key playmaker.

Palmer started on the right wing in Athens and scored City's equaliser just after the hour mark, following up his fine strike against Arsenal in the Community Shield, but that has not stopped speculation linking the 21-year-old academy product with a move away.

As Guardiola revealed fears that De Bruyne may not return to full fitness until February, he said Palmer and others will need to provide the answers.

“It's not necessary to ask how good he is,” Guardiola said of Palmer. “You don't need two goals in two finals to define how good he is.

“Cole in the previous season arrived in an extraordinary moment, he defined the game in the FA Cup and then had injuries. He couldn't be there.

“Playing at City is not easy with Riyad [Mahrez, now departed for the Saudi Pro League], Bernardo [Silva] and a lot of players.

“Last season our players in midfield were KDB, who will be four or five months out, [Ilkay Gundogan] who isn't here, we have to adjust a few things. We're not at our best, or our top, it's normal and we adjust a few things but the spirit is there.”

Updated: September 25, 2023, 8:48 AM