Manchester City's Pep Guardiola Talks 'Unfair' John Stones Criticism

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2020

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: John Stones of Manchester City during the FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester City and Port Vale at Etihad Stadium on January 4, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has branded criticism of John Stones in the wake of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace as "unfair." 

City looked to have saved all three points at the Etihad Stadium when Sergio Aguero's double turned the game on its head after Cenk Tosun's first-half goal. However, Fernandinho's late own goal meant things finished even:

Stones was partially culpable for both Eagles goals, but Guardiola defended the English centre-back ahead of Tuesday's visit to Sheffield United, per ESPN FC's Rob Dawson: "Unfair, yes. We are there [to support him]. I am there, ups and downs in your career, managers always, we know his quality."

Guardiola also said Stones is a doubt for the visit to Bramall Lane:

The Blades present the defending champions with another tricky challenge.

Chris Wilder's side are enjoying a superb return to the Premier League in 2019-20 and have lost just one of their last eight home games in all competitions.

Seventh in the table, Sheffield United are firmly in the battle for the European places:

City, meanwhile, have no such motivation in the Premier League this term.

They were already effectively out of the title race before last weekend, but two more dropped points against Palace means the gap between them and leaders Liverpool is now 16 points, and the Reds have a game in hand.

But the Sky Blues are also 14 points clear of Manchester United in fifth place, so there is no real danger of them dropping out of the UEFA Champions League qualification spots.

City's focus must now have surely shifted to winning Europe's top-tier cup competition for the first time.

They will be back in Champions League action on February 26, when they visit the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid

Related

    Barca Go Top as Madrid Lose

    A disastrous night for Zidane as Hazard also went off injured

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Barca Go Top as Madrid Lose

    Gianni Verschueren
    via Bleacher Report

    Barcelona Chief Trolled in His Own Seat

    Bartomeu's spot at Camp Nou had a Real Madrid badge stuck on it

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Barcelona Chief Trolled in His Own Seat

    MARCA in English
    via MARCA in English

    Pep Says Leicester Good Prep for Madrid

    Manchester City logo
    Manchester City

    Pep Says Leicester Good Prep for Madrid

    FourFourTwo
    via FourFourTwo

    Hazard Subbed with Injury

    Madrid face Man City and Barca next

    Manchester City logo
    Manchester City

    Hazard Subbed with Injury

    Gill Clark
    via Bleacher Report