Violent conduct bans for Sergio Aguero and Nolito means Manchester City players must be “smart and intelligent”, says Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola will welcome Sergio Aguero back from a three-match ban when Manchester City face Swansea City and has called for his players to be intelligent amid any provocation from the opposition.
The Premier League leaders are chasing a 10th win in as many competitive matches under the Catalan on Saturday, having triumphed 2-1 in an EFL Cup tie at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday.
That match concluded Aguero’s domestic absence following retrospective punishment from the Football Association for striking Winston Reid with his elbow in August’s 3-1 win over West Ham.
Spain forward Nolito will serve the second game of an identical ban after being dismissed for aiming a headbutt at Adam Smith during the closing stages of last weekend’s 4-0 triumph against Bournemouth.
“You have to be smart and intelligent to not fall down – be quiet and focus on what we have to do in the game,” Guardiola told reporters.
“I think for the history of Nolito and Aguero, they are normal guys and they want to play. You know the same like me how they are.”
Guardiola does not feel it is necessary for Aguero to curb any aggressive tendencies in his game as the Argentina international looks to build on a phenomenal return of nine goals in five matches under his management.
“He’s not that type of player but sometimes this kind of action happens,” Guardiola said. “We can agree or not agree about the suspension but we accept; the same with Nolito.
“He [Nolito] did not touch the opponent. The opponent is the first [to put his head on] Nolito. We have to accept absolutely the suspension from the federation and try as quickly as possible to come back with Nolito in the team
“We are happy that Sergio can play again with us.”
Guardiola will once again be without Vincent Kompany, after his captain suffered a groin injury on his return to action in midweek against Francesco Guidolin’s side.
Rested midfielders David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho are likely to return after missing Wednesday’s fixture, which Guardiola predicts will have little bearing come the weekend.
“Now we know each other,” ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola said. “Francesco now knows me and I know him. We are going to analyse what happened here
“We have to expect maybe they will play with five at the back because against Chelsea for the first time he played with five.
“Of course, he is going to play new players – [Fernando] Llorente is going to play, [Gylfi] Sigurdsson is going to play, [Modou] Barrow or [Jefferson] Montero as well maybe.
“We will have to see what we have to do better to win the game.”
Guardiola added: “I am happy for nine wins in a row because a win helps you to win more. But I know we did a lot of things we can do much, much better.
“That’s my target and my focus as a coach. On Saturday we must play better than Wednesday in some places to win the Premier League game.”