Guardiola's right about fixtures but research shows Liverpool have had it WORSE

Pep Guardiola took aim at Manchester City’s fixture schedule following the FA Cup semi-final win against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday. 

The Spaniard’s chief complaint was that his side had to get back in action only three days after going out of the Champions League on penalties against Real Madrid on Wednesday night whereas Sunday’s semi-finalists, Manchester United and Coventry, had experienced a game-free midweek. 

"It's unacceptable," he told the BBC. "It's really unacceptable. Coventry, United and Chelsea don't play in the week, [but] they let us play today. 

"It's impossible, for the health of the players! Honestly, it's not normal.”

New research by Opta’s The Analyst backs up Guardiola’s claims that the City schedule is “unacceptable” and also reveals the one team that have it worse than City are Liverpool.

According to Opta, City have had 121 hours and 26 minutes’ rest between games on average this season.

By contrast, the Reds have had ONLY 116 hours and 18 minutes between their games on average. 

Premier League the most intense in Europe

Jurgen Klopp’s side to this point have played 53 matches compared to City’s 52 with Aston Villa and West Ham - two more teams involved in European football - next in line among Premier League team with 50 and 49 games respectively. 

The Premier League is widely regarded as the most intense in Europe and the Opta data emphasises that point.

English top-flight sides “face tougher schedules than their European counterparts,” according to Opta. 

Barcelona, playing every 131 hours and 28 minutes on average, sit below Liverpool, City, Villa and West Ham from the Premier League in terms of time between games. 

Barca play more frequently than any other big club in a European top-five league but it still pales in comparison to Liverpool’s calendar. 

Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, enjoy about 22 more hours of rest on average between games than Liverpool do. 

Liverpool squad stretched to the limit

Critics point to Guardiola’s sparse use of his fringe players as a way to counter his claims of burnout and, again, Opta data bears out these arguments. City have only started 24 players this season in all competitions and Liverpool, by contrast, have started 35. 

 Each City player meanwhile has endured an average playing time of 2,037 minutes, the highest in the Premier League.

Liverpool’s squad has been stretched to the limit this season due to a severe injury crisis

The likes of Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara, Stefan Bajcetic, Curtis Jones, Dominik Szoboszlai, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah have all missed significant portions of the season due to injury.

Youngsters and fringe players have had to step into the breach, with Liverpool enjoying Carabao Cup success featuring “Klopp’s Kids”, and the Reds also staying in contention for the Premier League title. 

 

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