Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said last week Kalvin Phillips was overweight; midfielder was named on bench for City's 3-1 win at Leeds; Pep: "He has the perfect body now - so sexy"; Guardiola also claims Erling Haaland, who scored twice in the victory, is "not at his best"
Thursday 29 December 2022 19:14, UK
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has joked that "sexy" Kalvin Phillips has the "perfect body" after revealing last week the England midfielder was overweight.
Phillips was named on the bench for City's 3-1 win at his former club Leeds on Wednesday night after he was left out of their Carabao Cup squad in last week's win against Liverpool.
Guardiola said after the fourth round win: "He is not injured. He arrived overweight (from the World Cup). He didn't arrive in the condition for the training sessions and to play."
But the Spaniard has now made a U-turn on the 27-year-old's weight issues and says the midfielder could feature in their next game at home to Everton on New Year's Eve after recovering from shoulder surgery earlier this month.
"He [Phillips] has the perfect body now - so sexy," Guardiola said after the win at Elland Road.
"We will see for the weekend. He has spent the first part of the season out with surgery to arrive for the World Cup - and did everything to get to the World Cup.
"It's not just about just being fit, you also have to understand what we want to do, the movements etc.
"So that means, as quick as possible because Rodri cannot play all the games, so as quick as possible he will play.
"But I'm happy that yesterday, for example, Kalvin trained really well and sooner or later he will play."
Erling Haaland said missing out on the World Cup drove him a "bit mad" and has made him "hungrier" after scoring twice in the win at Leeds.
The Norway striker has now scored 26 goals in 20 appearances for City in all competitions since his summer switch from Dortmund, including 20 in 14 top-flight appearances.
"I've been at home, being a bit mad that I'm not playing at the World Cup," Haaland told Amazon Prime.
"To watch other people score to win games at the World Cup kind of triggers me, kind of motivates me and irritates me. I'm more hungry and I'm more ready than ever."
But Guardiola, whose side moved back up to second and closed the gap on leaders Arsenal to five points, claimed Haaland is still not back to his best.
“He’s an incredible threat for us and always in the right position at the right time, really good.
“I think he is still not at his best because of the injury, to move his huge body is not easy for him, but as much as he can play minutes, (he) will be better.”
Guardiola said Haaland, who joined City from Borussia Dortmund for £52.1m in June, has not fully recovered from a foot injury sustained in his side's goalless Champions League draw against his former club in October.
“I have the feeling he is not at his best,” Guardiola added. “It is a matter of time. Always an incredible threat for the opponent.
“Of course we are delighted, but that little (bit of extra) pace he had at the beginning of the season, he struggles a little bit.
“I am still more than satisfied, but the first part of the season he was sharper. He is getting better, incredible professional. He takes care of his body and mind.”
City lost their last league match before the World Cup break to Brentford but dominated from the off in west Yorkshire, with Haaland wasting no time in having a first attempt at goal, seeing his effort to loft the ball into the net well saved after just 36 seconds.
Against the side they conceded 11 goals over two league matches last term, Leeds remained up against it as Haaland was presented with another golden chance to break the deadlock but he again could not beat Meslier.
The opportunities kept coming and going for City, but finally, with their 16th shot of the opening period alone, Rodri was on hand to stab the opener home.
Alfie Haaland took 181 Premier League appearances to score 18 goals in the competition, but his son needed just 14 to overtake him, slotting home Grealish's pass six minutes into the second half to double City's lead.
Haaland then smashed the record for number of games needed to reach the 20 mark by converting another Grealish pass to make it three, reaching the milestone in seven games fewer than the previous record holder, Kevin Phillips.
Grealish was guilty of missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities, and Guardiola said: "He got two assists but of course he has to score goals. The chances are there and it's a question of mentality. We've seen in the training sessions he has the ability to put the ball into the net. He's not a striker but he has the ability to do it. He can't have any negativity in his mind."
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch spent time in charge of Haaland during his spell in charge of RB Salzburg and has seen the 22-year-old develop into one of the world’s leading strikers.
Marsch said: “I’m just really happy for him. In some ways watching him score is painful. I want him in a different kit.
“But when you know some of these young men and you see their qualities as people, you just want them to be their best – just not against you.
“But, my gosh, I’m happy for him. He’s such a great person and I’m really happy for him.”
Leeds remain 15th in the table, two points above the relegation zone with a game in hand on most of their rivals, after their eighth league defeat of the season, which have all come in their last 12 matches.
Marsch, whose side play at Newcastle in three days’ time, added: “They (City) got three on the day, so to say it was great isn’t accurate, but you know when you play these games the opponents are so good.
“But we are making progress and we have to stay laser-focused on our process.”
Manchester City host Everton on New Year's Eve in a 3pm kick-off, when Leeds take on Newcastle at St James' Park.