Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed that both star striker Sergio Aguero and central defender Aymeric Laporte will be unavailable for Wednesday’s Premier League game at home to Aston Villa.
The boss confirmed that Aguero will miss a fourth match after being forced to self-isolate. Guardiola also explained that Laporte is back in training but still not match fit following a hamstring injury picked up a couple of weeks ago.
With a chance to go top of the league against Dean Smith’s Villa at the Etihad, Guardiola stated that the duo will not feature in his selection plans.
“Sergio is not ready for tomorrow. He is still isolating,” he said.
“Aymeric is at the last step. He is not ready for tomorrow, but he is training with us.
“Hopefully he will be available for the weekend. That would be good news. We need him. We cannot play with just John Stones and Ruben Dias. We need Laporte.”
Villa’s last two Premier League games have been postponed due to a Covid outbreak at their Bodymoor Heath training ground. Missing fixtures with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, the players’ self-isolation period has now ended.
Ready to face a strong West Midlands outfit, Guardiola told the media that he expects a tough test against the side sat 11th in the table.
“I wish they are healthy and have recovered well,” Guardiola said.
“We expect the best and it depends on us.
“The only concern is Aston Villa right now. We don’t know who will be available. We will see tomorrow in the line-up. The performance is the only concern.
“In this league you can win five games in a row and then lose three in a row. The most important thing is Aston Villa.
“They bought Ollie Watkins. Their holding midfielders are fantastic, and they provide a lot of quality in the box with Jack Grealish and Anwar El Ghazi.
“They are not suffering at the bottom of the league. They will be in the Premier League again.”
Strong at the back
City have conceded just three goals in their last 15 games. Boasting an impressive defensive record this season, Guardiola highlighted the importance of a solid back line.
“It’s really good to keep clean sheets,” he said.
“You cannot win titles if you do not play good and don’t score goals up front
“We have been solid and conceded few except against Leicester City. We have conceded few chances similar to last season.
“The difference is we have not made mistakes like we did in the past. You need to be good in set pieces, good up front and good defensively.
“Many things help to be a champion. When one or two drop a little bit it is difficult.”
City defender John Stones capped his recent good form with two goals in Sunday's 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Stones has not played for England since November 2019 but after falling out of contention at City, he has fought his way back into Guardiola's side this season.
“John has done really well the last two months,” Guardiola said.
“For a long time, he wasn’t playing for many reasons. He needs to continue be consistent in his life and take care of his body.
“The players know we are here 24 hours a day for them but, confidence has to come from the players themselves.”