Pep Guardiola has told key players that he plans to make significant changes to his starting XI for the Manchester derby in order to prioritise the Champions League quarter-final with Liverpool, according to reports.
Man United’s 2-0 win over Swansea City and Man City’s 3-1 win at Everton over the weekend has given Guardiola the chance to wrap up the title against Jose Mourinho‘s side on Saturday.
But the clash is sandwiched between two games of even greater magnitude in the context of their season – a trip to Anfield on Wednesday and the second leg next week.
And according to Goal‘s Sam Lee, Guardiola has informed senior figures in the City dressing room that he will rest them on Saturday if the tie remains in the balance following the first leg.
“Pep Guardiola has told his Manchester City players that he is willing to make significant changes for next Saturday’s Manchester derby, despite the fact that they will be confirmed as Premier League Champions if they beat their rivals at the Etihad Stadium,” he said.
It is not often that the opportunity to win the Premier League at home against your biggest rivals is a matter of secondary concern, and there will no doubt be some City supporters who want blood on Saturday – to see a full-strength team pull apart United in a blaze of glory.
But this would not be pragmatic. Guardiola, having lost 4-3 at Anfield earlier in the season, knows just how hard that game will be, and the physical effects of the encounter with Jurgen Klopp’s side will no doubt leave some players unable to give their absolute best just three days later.
United, on the other hand, have no game in midweek, and can pour everything into trying to stop City’s party on Saturday.