Pep Guardiola has insisted that the Premier League is his number one priority, and hinted at who will be in the Manchester City starting XI against Crystal Palace.
City travel to Selhurst Park for a Saturday evening kick-off in good form, having won their last three matches in all competitions.
With Arsenal not playing until Sunday, Guardiola’s side have another chance to pile the pressure on the Premier League leaders by cutting the gap at the top of the table to two points.
They thought they had made up ground last weekend after beating Newcastle 2-0, but Arsenal pulled off a last-gasp comeback at home to Bournemouth to restore their five-point advantage.
Crystal Palace is not the only crucial game coming up for City. On Tuesday the Blues will host RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, with the aggregate score locked at 1-1 after the first leg in Germany.
With that European date in mind, some managers might take the Palace game as a chance to rest key players. But during his pre-match press conference on Friday, Guardiola gave short shrift to that idea.
“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if his team selection will be affected by the upcoming Leipzig game.
“We are playing for the Premier League [title]. The most important thing is the Premier League, absolutely.”
The City boss then went on to explain how he will make his team selections during the final months of the season.
“Rotation will be important but not like it is in September, October, and November. The guys who are playing good and are giving me confidence will continue t play. This is a little bit what my feeling is now.”
That will be music to the ears of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, two players who have been in and out of the team this season but have both performed well in recent weeks.
However, it does cast into doubt the selection of Kevin de Bruyne. While the Belgian is capable of producing something from nothing, he has performed nowhere near his usual level since the World Cup.