Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Pep Already Planning for City's Title Run-In!

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Pep Already Planning for City's Title Run-In!

Article excerpt

CITY played 61 games last season and 57 the year before that. All being well Pep Guardiola will hope they are in the 60s again this season. If that target is achieved then silverware will be arriving at the Etihad once more, with a run deep into the Champions League as well.

But to achieve that, the Blues boss is going to need to keep his squad fresh throughout the season. There was no sign of tiredness as the campaign wore on last year, with City winning 21 of their final 23 games in all competitions.

The intense for and his rotation the One of those they didn't win in 90 minutes was the Carabao Cup final, secured on penalties against Chelsea.

It was a relentless march from the start of February to May.

The schedule is intense for Guardiola and his side, however, especially for those international stars of whom so much is asked summer after summer in the modern game.

Having played nearly 120 games in the last two seasons, the fixture list will again throw up plenty of weekend-midweek games for City this term.

So rotation will be key for Guardiola and in the first four Premier League games of the season the Catalan has given an indication he will be focusing on using his squad more than in previous years. Part of that is due to having greater options this year. The struggle to recruit a long-term replacement for Fernandinho last summer left the Brazilian exposed to a heavy workload last term, while Kevin de Bruyne's injury troubles robbed Guardiola of a key midfield option. In the first three Premier League games of last season Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan started all of them. So far this season the relatively fresh De Bruyne, who featured in just 32 is Guardiola side, so will be key games last term, 22 of them from the start, is the only midfielder to start every game.

The return to fitness and form of the brilliant Belgian and the recruitment of Rodri from Atletico Madrid has given Guardiola greater depth to his midfield, as has the increased consistency and maturity of Phil Foden. …

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