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Guardiola calls for more protection for players

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola feels more needs to be done to protect players from suffering serious injuries after seeing Kevin De Bruyne carried off in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Following City goalkeeper Ederson’s dramatic late penalty save, Palace’s Jason Puncheon lunged in on De Bruyne and took out the Belgium midfielder who left the pitch on a stretcher, with his right leg in a brace.

De Bruyne was later seen being helped down the touchline back to the dressing room by City’s medical staff.

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Guardiola feels stronger action needs to be taken on such deliberate fouls, but stopped short of saying he would approach the Football Association to raise the issue.

“They (the FA) know what they have to do. They must protect the players,“ Guardiola said. “Please, referees, they have to protect players. We were lucky against Tottenham and against Newcastle. Today we were not lucky. Referees have to protect. We know how strong physically it is England but teams miss big players, not just Manchester City.”

The draw brought City’s 18-game winning streak to an end, but Ederson’s stoppage-time penalty save to deny Luka Milivojevic did preserve City’s unbeaten Premier League run this season, which now stands at 21 games.

Guardiola defended his side’s rare slip-up, insisting dropping points was always going to happen.

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“Eighteen wins in a row, that is not normal, unreal,” Guardiola added. “The next one will not be easy. But it is December, there are lot of fixtures to play.

“To play in four competitions and this level of intensity is impossible. Of course we cannot win every match.”

On the transfer front, Guardiola refused to be drawn on whether De Bruyne’s injury would influence his pursuit of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

“I don’t know (what’s going to happen) but he’s a player of Arsenal and I think he is going to stay there,” Guardiola added.

“In the internal meetings we are going to decide what is best. But my feeling now is that he’s an Arsenal player and he will be.”

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