Pep Guardiola hints at Erling Haaland's return against Fulham

Erling Haaland of Manchester City shows his disappointment during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City at Signal Iduna Park on October 25, 2022 in Dortmund, Germany.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said Premier League top goalscorer Erling Haaland is “much better” and could return to action against Fulham on Saturday.

Guardiola did not risk Haaland for City’s Champions League clash with Sevilla in midweek, given they had already sealed top spot in their group, after the Norwegian picked up a knock against former club Borussia Dortmund the previous week.

Haaland, who has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water following his close season move to Manchester, scoring 22 goals across all competitions already, could be given the chance to add to his incredible tally on Saturday.

“He’s much better, we’ll decide today,” Guardiola said on Friday. “A good step, he starts training today. We see this afternoon. We consider his opinion, the doctor’s opinion, [if he will play] 90 minutes or less minutes, we’ll see.”

Meanwhile, Guardiola believes Liverpool remain a strong threat to the champions in the title race.

Second-placed City head into this week’s round of fixtures 13 points clear of the side that have been their closest rival in recent seasons.

Guardiola said: “They have the same manager and squad who were able to make 17 victories in a row, 18 victories in a row in the past. Why are they not able to do it again?

“Nobody knows what is going to happen after the World Cup, there’s the transfer window, players coming back. This is my feeling.

“I would say Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Newcastle, Tottenham, (Manchester) United and Liverpool. It think these teams can fight for the title.”

The Spaniard also praised Gerard Pique after the Barcelona defender announced he will retire this week, with his final match at Camp Nou for Barcelona, where he won two Champions League titles during Guardiola’s time as manager there, to be on Saturday.

“Surprise news. I know his mum and dad, he is an incredible human being, huge personality,” Guardiola said. “A player for the big games, never not in the highest level. All the big clubs need these kind of players.

“He won everything for Barcelona and Spain. The time arrives, the future will be bright, he’s a smart guy. An honour to be his manager, we spent an incredible four years together.

“His dream came true, 13, 14, 15 years being there [Barcelona] all the time.”

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