December 23, 2016 / 3:42 PM / a year ago

Guardiola cancels Christmas to focus on Hull City

(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will not allow his players time off for Christmas as he wants to ensure they are fully prepared for Monday’s Premier League trip to basement team Hull City.

Britain Football Soccer - Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League - Etihad Stadium - 18/12/16 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine Livepic

Guardiola, whose side are third and trail leaders Chelsea by seven points, said he consulted his players before taking the decision.

“They gave me good advice about what it means to play on Boxing Day at Hull City,” he told a news conference on Friday.

“We’re going to train tomorrow (Saturday) and on the 25th, then get a bus in the afternoon to Hull. We’re going to prepare like it’s not Christmas.”

Captain Vincent Kompany, who has not played since the middle of November, is still out with a knee injury while defender Pablo Zabaleta faces a late fitness test after picking up a knock in the 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Striker Sergio Aguero will serve the last game of a four-match suspension but midfielder Fernandinho has completed a three-match ban.

“What I have learned in my short time here is the gap between the first 10 teams and last 10 is not that big,” Guardiola said.

”Other people said before I came here how complicated all the games are, so I am not expecting easy games. We have to be prepared. It’s my first year here.

“Hull started quite well. Of course, the situation is not good but I saw many, many games and they are a special team.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Brian Homewood

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