Soccer

Pep Guardiola concerned by Manchester City's Etihad Stadium pitch – 'The grass is not good'

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has expressed concern about the state of the pitch at the Etihad Stadium.

City seem to have had few problems playing at home this season, given they are 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League and chasing an unprecedented quadruple.

Guardiola, however, feels the surface is in poor condition in comparison to other venues.

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The City boss said: “They’re working a lot, they are trying to find a solution but the grass is not good.

“All the players know how good the grass is and sometimes it is not. I know the weather conditions here in England are tough but there are stadiums where the grass is good. We were in London against Arsenal, at Anfield, at Old Trafford and the grass was better.

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“We were in Budapest in the Champions League and the grass was incredible, red carpet – and our grass still is not good.”

City returned to winning ways after last week’s derby loss to Manchester United with a 5-2 home victory over Southampton in midweek.

They are back in action on Saturday as they travel to relegation-threatened Fulham, a match Guardiola feels will be tough in light of the Cottagers’ recent form.

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Scott Parker’s side have lost just one of their last seven games as they battle to escape the bottom three.

Guardiola said: “They play incredibly well. They were relegated with Scott and promoted again.

“I was really impressed when they played here with their physicality, their strength. It is a big challenge for us.”

Manchester City’s next scheduled match at the Etihad is not until April 10 when they host Leeds in the Premier League.

‘Hopefully VAR is better next season’

City were on the receiving end of a contentious VAR decision in midweek, with Phil Foden denied a penalty when he appeared to be brought down by Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Guardiola called the decision “incredible” after the 5-2 win, and on Friday he said the club would be willing to follow the Premier League’s lead regarding future improvements with VAR.

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He said: “You have to do it and we will follow them. Hopefully every time and every season it is better and better.

“The players want to score goals. Sometimes players have the ability to provoke falls, this is a talent too, and in the end the referees try to decide which one is trying to cheat or not.

“But this is not a question. Before it was [just] the referee, which is one of the toughest jobs. So difficult, so complicated. The game is faster than ever, transitions, distances. Everything. That’s why VAR is there, to wait five, 10 seconds and take a look.

“It’s not bad decisions that punish us right now. Sometimes it happened from another side. I think all managers have arguments to sometimes complain. Just to be more accurate, to do it better, to try to avoid these kind of situations. That is the target for VAR, next season hopefully it will be better.”

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