Premier League title race: Man City stretch lead at top
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Manchester City have been hit with a major Covid-19 outbreak among their playing and backroom staff. It is believed 21 members of the first-team squad, including seven players, are isolating. And manager Pep Guardiola will miss his side’s FA Cup third round tie against Swindon on Friday.
The Sky Blues sat back during this week’s Covid controversy while Liverpool’s match with Arsenal was postponed.
Tottenham’s trip to Stamford Bridge went ahead on Wednesday night, although Thomas Tuchel’s side started the tie with a depleted playing squad.
Pep Guardiola and his team have come through relatively unscathed amid a string of Covid outbreaks that have taken hold of Premier League sides in the past few weeks.
But that appears to have caught up with them, as the club confirmed that a major outbreak has now affected the squad.
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Assistant Juanma Lillo and Guardiola himself are among those to test positive, meaning they will miss Friday’s trip to Swindon Town.
Both are now isolating, along with a host of others within the City first team.
In total, 21 members of the first-team group are now isolating for Covid reasons, with 14 of those backroom staff and seven players.
In the duo’s absence, assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell will take charge of Friday’s clash.
Swindon Town may now fancy their chances of an upset given that City will come into the tie with a depleted playing squad and a makeshift arrangement on the touchline.
The Robins currently occupy fifth spot in League Two, three divisions down from City who are currently blazing a trail in the top-flight.
The Sky Blues have not crashed out in the third round since 2011/12, a fate inflicted by arch-rivals Manchester United on that occasion.
With Guardiola’s side out of the EFL Cup, extra emphasis is likely to be placed on a deep run in the FA Cup.
For the visitors, Riyad Mahrez has already jetted off to the Africa Cup of Nations which leaves City slightly thin on the ground.
John Stones is likely to miss out with a knock, while Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko remain doubts because of Covid.
In truth, third-round ties are normally perfect arenas for young talent to gain valuable minutes, which could give prominent youngsters like Cole Palmer and James McAtee a chance to impress.
The likes of CJ Egan-Riley, Luke Mbete and Kayky have also been tipped to start, on what could shape up to be a strange afternoon for City.
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