Update: Guardiola calls for action over heavy tackles

Pep Guardiola has suggested English football needs to act to protect players after a thrilling goalless draw at Crystal Palace was marred by some heavy challenges, most notably a tackle from Jason Puncheon on Kevin De Bruyne that resulted in the Premier League’s outstanding player this season being taken off on a stretcher.

De Bruyne may have been fortunate to escape serious injury, with suggestions he might miss only the home game against Watford on Tuesday night, but the Manchester City manager emphasised his issue is not with English football’s physicality but its policing of contact. “I admire the physicality of the league, but they [the FA] know exactly what they have to do,” Guardiola said. “People focus on diving and this kind of thing, and that’s OK.

“But the contact is more allowed here than other countries, and that’s OK too, but there are limits. We were lucky against Tottenham [with injuries] and against Newcastle and today we saw what happened.

“They don’t have to change the way they play here – that’s why it is so nice, they play in different ways in different countries. But there is a line and when you go beyond that it can be dangerous. The referee has to follow the rules but also protect the players.

“The football is quicker and the action is great, the players don’t want to hurt each other but there are moments, and then players can be out for a long time.”

Guardiola confirmed Gabriel Jesus is out for at least a month with a knee injury he sustained early in the first half, and which reduced the Brazilian to tears, but said that did not mean City would make a move for Alexis Sánchez in January having come close to signing the Arsenal forward during the summer.

“No, he is a player from Arsenal and I think he is going to stay there,” said the Catalan. “Now it’s just about recovering from injuries and in two days we have another game. We will discuss what is the best in internal meeting but my feeling now is Sánchez will remain an Arsenal player.”

Guardiola also batted away suggestions City could go unbeaten for the rest of the season having seen their winning run come to an end. “We had an 18-match run, that is not normal, it’s unreal. I swear to you, that is not going to happen. I’m not thinking about being invincible. I told Arsène, that brand is for him.”

Roy Hodgson was quietly satisfied with Palace’s performance and refused to dwell on Luka Milivojevic’s missed penalty in the closing stages.




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