With three huge games in less than a week, Pep Guardiola is to rotate his squad for games against Liverpool and Manchester United – with the former fixture getting priority treatment according to reports.
After making light work of Everton on Saturday, City are just one win away from winning the Premier League title and have the wonderful opportunity of doing it against bitter rivals United at the Etihad on April 8. It’s every City fan’s dream.
Both games are of huge importance to City, but the talk as per Sammy Lee from Goal, is that Guardiola is prepared to play a weaker team against United in the hope of having his big guns fit and firing for the second leg against Liverpool on 10 April.
Of course, there’s less need rotate if City thump Liverpool away but Guardiola has apparently already told certain players they will be rested against United if the tie is still alive.
Guardiola had hinted at making use of the squad at his disposal in his post-Everton press conference, saying:
“Of course I want to win against United at home but we have three days before we have Liverpool, after we have three days before United and after we have three days before the second leg so few recovery days.
“You have to use all the squad but that doesn’t mean the guys who play are not going to prepare to win. If we are in the position we are now in the Premier League it is because everyone has made his own contribution. That is going to happen. But I am sorry, as a manager, now Liverpool will occupy all my head.”
City’s “second string”, comprising of the likes of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, is still very good, but City fans would be much more confident of beating their neighbours with their strongest XI.
Their title win is inevitable but doing it on Saturday would be something else. Still, you can understand the stance Guardiola is taking.