Pep Guardiola would prefer Manchester City to face Marcus Rashford in derby

Pep Guardiola claims he is disappointed Manchester City will not face Marcus Rashford in Sunday’s derby.

Manchester United striker Rashford is sidelined with a back injury and will not get the chance to add to the four goals he has previously scored against City as the teams meet at Old Trafford.

The 22-year-old has been on target twice  against City this season and his absence should make the Guardiola’s planing easier.

Pep Guardiola does not like to see opponents' best players, like Tottenham's Harry Kane, out injured
Pep Guardiola does not like to see opponents’ best players, like Tottenham’s Harry Kane, out injured (Mark Kerton/PA)

Yet the City boss has looked beyond that and feels it is a shame he will not be involved in the Premier League clash.

He said: “I have always said since the first day I became a manager that I like to play against a full squad from my opponents.

“I would have loved to play against (Eden) Hazard at the Bernabeu. I don’t like to see Rashford out or (Harry) Kane against Tottenham. I prefer to play against top players and all the players available.

“So it is not good for United and he is absent for the national team. Hopefully he can recover as quickly as possible. I would have preferred if he had played for them.”

Guardiola says he does not know if it will now be easier to play against United because he knew Rashford would be out before he started planning.

He said: “At the moment I think about United and which players are available to play against us and after that I am not concerned any more. I don’t think even for a half second that he is not there.

“I think about (Anthony) Martial, (Daniel) James, (Bruno) Fernandes and (Odion) Ighalo if he plays, and the way they plays – three or four different types of systems.

“Also the way we play, trying to settle and understand what we try to do, and the quality they have, the way they play, and to try to go there and put in a good performance.”

United, who are 15 points behind second-placed City but hoping to force their way into the top four, have been inconsistent this season. That has meant manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s performance has been under the spotlight at times.

The pressure, however, has eased of late with United unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions and Guardiola believes keeping faith with Solskjaer was the right decision.

He said: “I didn’t expect, when I landed here, to have this gap right now with United but what United expects is to get closer to the people above. They are working to improve.

“Always I believe that the managers and the clubs need time to implant, to build something the manager and the club believe.

“Unfortunately the results sometimes (lead to) the decision to break that process but what I feel is that people believe in Ole and I think he is doing a really good job.

“It is not about the tactics sometimes, it is about (the feel), how the players follow the manager.

“He arrived with an incredible impact in terms of results. After (came a) drop a little bit but they were stable. Now the results are getting back, they are scoring a lot of goals.

“They create chances, they concede few, they have good keepers, good defenders and a bigger squad. So United, there is no doubt, all the time, every season, have good teams.”

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