Guardiola backs Ancelotti to deliver Everton success

Pep Guardiola believes Everton are destined for success under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti.

The Premier League champions host Ancelotti’s new side at the Etihad Stadium on New Year’s Day.

The appointment of the much-decorated Italian in December was a huge coup for the Merseysiders and Guardiola expects his experience to rub off on the team.

Guardiola said: “Carlo is one of the smartest guys. He is always able, it doesn’t matter the team, to make them work. They have had good results in the last two games so it is a difficult test for us.

“I think it is incredible news for English football he is back and I think he can make an incredible job there.”

Asked if he thought Ancelotti would be successful, Guardiola said: “I am pretty sure, yes.”

Guardiola, however, disagreed with Ancelotti’s description of him as a “genius”.

“I am not,” the Spaniard said at his pre-match press conference.

The visit of Everton is City’s third game in six days after defeat at Wolves last Friday and victory over Sheffield United on Sunday.

Guardiola has already made clear his dissatisfaction at the close proximity of the fixtures and he feels his players are at risk of injury.

Manchester City v Arsenal – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Pep Guardiola will be hoping to have centre-back Aymeric Laporte back in action early in the new year (Nick Potts/PA Images).

He said: “We think about that. We have five games in 12 days so it is quite similar for the other teams but in this period they have one more day or two more days to recover.

“Yes, we take a risk. It was the same the last game. We played 80 minutes with 10 against 11 in a difficult test against Wolves and then, two days after, we came back to play again. It is a risk but you have to take it.”

City’s title defence this season has been a disappointing one and they already trail leaders Liverpool by 14 points having played a game more.

The champions have sorely missed centre-back Aymeric Laporte, who has been out since suffering a knee injury in August.

Guardiola hopes the Frenchman will be back in action early in the new year.

He said: “He is getting better. He is training alone but already on the pitch. It is the last part (of his recovery). I think in one week or maybe 10 days be can come back and can start to train with us.”

John Stones and David Silva are both back in contention to face Everton after injury.

Guardiola said: “I miss all the players that are injured. I like to have all the squad available and training with us. I don’t like to see players injured.”

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