Pep Guardiola is planning how best to utilise his talented squad as Manchester City prepare to embark on a demanding run of fixtures.
City maintained their magnificent start to the season against Leicester on Saturday with a 2-0 victory giving them an 11th win in the first 12 Premier League matches, preserving their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
However, the club-record extending 16th consecutive win came at a cost as John Stones limped off with a hamstring injury that Guardiola expects to keep the central defender out for between four and six weeks.
Losing Stones will put added strain on a City squad that faces 12 fixtures in all competitions during the remainder of 2017, with Benjamin Mendy already sidelined.
Guardiola has told his players to be ready as he rotates the team for forthcoming games, starting with the visit of Feyenoord in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
“Against Feyenoord I will change the team completely,” said the City boss. “What happened with John Stones shows the calendar is so demanding and we have to rotate the team this month and we will do that game by game.
“Fortunately we already qualify for the Champions League but the problem is we have a lot of games. The calendar demands so much from the players and that is why we have to have big squads to rotate because it is impossible to sustain these players every three days.
“The players who didn’t play (against Leicester) are going to play the next game but also some of the players that did play are going to play too. I have to think about it but Danilo, Yaya Toure, ( Ilkay) Gundogan, Bernardo Silva are going to play for sure.”
Guardiola was keen to point out that making changes to his team was not a sign of City taking their foot off the gas.
He added: “We are already qualified in the Champions League but want to finish first. We are going to prepare for the Feyenoord game the same way we prepared today or at Stamford Bridge and I demand to the players that we win the game.
“I have an amazing squad with good players and everyone is going to play and I have to use the squad. I have said to the players to prepare because everyone is going to be involved.”
Saturday saw a first defeat as Leicester manager for Claude Puel but he was encouraged by his side’s performance.
He said: “Many times we had good possibilities and good organisation and we need to keep this going for the future because it was promising, especially against such a good team in Manchester City and with the international break as we didn’t have much time with the players to prepare and work together.
“But the players are very good and they listen and this is very good for the future as we can get better.”
Published at Sun, 19 Nov 2017 12:54:06 +0000