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MANCHESTER — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said he would rather suspend fixtures than play behind closed doors in response to coronavirus because it would make “no sense” to carry on without fans.
The UK government have so far allowed fixtures to continue as normal until Tuesday when the Premier League decided to postpone City’s clash with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday over fears of the spreading coronavirus.
“We are conscious of it because it has happened already in Italy,” Guardiola said. “The league is suspended, in Spain the next two weeks are behind closed doors. It is going to happen here. The tendency rises at the same level as Italy before and in Spain right now.
“The other issue you have to ask is it worse to play football without the spectators. We do our job for the people and if the people cannot come to watch us, there is no sense.
“I would not love to play matches in the Premier League or Champions League or the cups without the people. But we are going to follow the instructions of the governments. Everybody around the world is involved in that and we just follow what we have to do and follow the instructions.”
Arsenal’s visit would have been the first time Guardiola had gone head-to-head with former assistant Mikel Arteta after the Spaniard decided to take over at the Emirates in December.
Arsenal are ninth in the table, eight points off the top four, but they have found form under Arteta, losing just one of their last 13 games in all competitions.
“I said four years ago, after half a season I was convinced he’d be a manager and the right opportunity came up,” Guardiola said.
“I would say he’s done incredibly well — his ideas, his positional play. In a short term they’ll have success with him on the bench.”
Guardiola is waiting to see if Kevin De Bruyne will be available after the Belgium international missed the defeat to Manchester United on Sunday with a shoulder injury.
Aymeric Laporte is also a doubt with a hamstring injury while Leroy Sane is available but is lacking match fitness after more the six months out with a knee problem.