Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland will miss Manchester City’s trip to Brighton

The Norway striker missed City’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday with the muscle issue.

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland will miss Thursday’s clash at Brighton
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland will miss Thursday’s clash at Brighton (Mike Egerton/PA)

Title-chasing Manchester City will be without leading scorer Erling Haaland for Thursday’s Premier League clash with Brighton.

Haaland missed the FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea on Saturday with a muscle issue and has now been ruled out of his side’s trip to the Amex Stadium.

Manager Pep Guardiola insisted the matter was not a serious one for the 20-goal striker, who could come back into contention Sunday’s clash with Nottingham Forest, and was boosted by Phil Foden and John Stones both getting the green light after their own fitness concerns.

“Erling is not ready for tomorrow, the other two – they are ready,” he said.

“I’m not concerned. I know it is not a big issue, but he is not allowed for this game.”

The defending champions are four points behind leaders Arsenal with two games in hand, with second-placed Liverpool taking part in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night.

The run-in is effectively in City’s hands and Guardiola insists neither he nor his team will be taking their eye off the ball, raising an eyebrow at the suggestion he could use the midweek fixture as a chance to rotate first-choice players.

“I don’t know what ‘rotate’ means. Every player deserves to play,” he said.

“Every person has their (preferred) starting XI, but everyone has their contribution. Now we’ve had three or four days since the last game against Chelsea and tomorrow is one of the toughest games of the season.”

Pep Guardiola (right) is a big admirer of Roberto de Zerbi (left)
Pep Guardiola (right) is a big admirer of Roberto de Zerbi (left) (Tim Goode/PA)

Warming to his theme, Guardiola paid tribute to Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi, an opponent he has frequently championed and one he expects to cause him problems once more.

“Brighton away, if you put it in my calendar, is one of the toughest ones for the way we play,” he said.

“(It gets) harder. My admiration is growing every season. They’ve had a lot of problems, important players were sold like (loanee, Levi) Colwill, (Moises) Caicedo, (Alexis) Mac Allister. They were really important players. They have a lot of injuries and play three competitions, but the way they play is always there. He is doing an incredible job at Brighton.”

Guardiola’s City have earned a reputation as ruthless performers at the business end of the league season and, while he admits he thrives on the cut and thrust that comes with the conclusion of the campaign, he knows it is the team who do the hard work.

“Every game is adrenaline and important, but this is decisive,” he said.

“Now every mistake or step back makes it more difficult but it is what it is. We have been here these last years, fortunately many times, so that’s how we know what we are playing for. Yeah, I enjoy it the most, but also in November, December I enjoy it too

“I would say the best of the players is important. I don’t play. What is important is that the players have to be at their best.”