Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that key defensive duo Kyle Walker and John Stones will miss Sunday’s title showdown with Arsenal.

Walker suffered a hamstring injury in the early stages of England’s friendly with Brazil last weekend, while Stones completed that game but then picked up an adductor problem 10 minutes into the draw with Belgium.

Goalkeeper Ederson could return to the side for the first time since suffering a thigh injury when conceding a penalty against Liverpool and Manuel Akanji has recovered from a knock on international duty with Switzerland, while Guardiola will make a late decision on the fitness of Kevin de Bruyne.


“Ederson is much better but Kyle and John are out,” Guardiola said. “It is what it is.

“For Kyle it will be more tougher than John (in terms of recovery), but I don’t know for how many games he will be out.”

Asked if he was surprised that Stones had started both England friendlies, Guardiola would only say: “I don’t have any comments on that.”

Sunday’s game is the last of the season between any of the top three, with Arsenal top of the table on goal difference from Liverpool and reigning champions City a point behind.

John StonesEngland’s John Stones receives treatment for an injury during the international friendly against Belgium at Wembley (Mike Egerton/PA)

Guardiola’s side remain in contention for a repeat of last season’s treble, with Real Madrid their opponents in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea also to look forward to.

“It’s good to be here and in contention for three titles after what happened last season,” Guardiola added. “We made incredible work.

“Right now every game is so important. If we are able to do it (against Arsenal), the next game will be important as well.

“We played really good the last month but the international break, the first game after you think what will happen? Yesterday we trained good and we have two more training sessions and will be ready for it again.”

Pep GuardiolaManchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be without defensive duo Kyle Walker and John Stones for Sunday’s game against Arsenal (Martin Rickett/PA)

City won all three games against Arsenal last season, including a 4-1 victory at the Etihad, but the Gunners have turned the tables this campaign with victory on penalties in the Community Shield and a 1-0 win at the Emirates in October.

Asked what the difference is between Mikel Arteta’s side then and now, Guardiola said: “Same manager, same players.

“They control many aspects of the game and every time they are better and better.

“When you have consistency in terms of ideas and the same manager, you always improve. If you change manager and players, it is more difficult.”