Guardiola not changing derby plans after Anfield woe

Manchester City will win the Premier League if they beat Manchester United, but Pep Guardiola will not risk any fatigued first-team stars.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola insists he has not changed his selection plans for Saturday's Manchester derby in the wake of City's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool in midweek.

City will seal the Premier League with six games to spare if they beat their bitter rivals at the Etihad Stadium, but being outplayed in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday did not represent ideal preparation.

Ahead of that encounter at Anfield, Guardiola said the tie against Liverpool would take priority over the derby in his planning, despite the dream scenario of winning the title against United holding obvious appeal in the eyes of many City fans.

The former Barcelona boss maintained the need to assess his options in light of the demands of the schedule, although his focus was on assessing the physical condition of his squad as opposed to promising wholesale changes.

"When you have three massive games coming up like United, Liverpool and Tottenham, with just three days between the games, of course we have to see the players' condition," he said of City's upcoming week.

"We are going to have a training session and I will speak with the doctors, the physios and the players and we are going to see tomorrow morning what is the best team.

"Of course, we are going to prepare the team to win the game. We are going to pick a team to win the game, there is no doubt about that."

Asked whether events on Merseyside had changed his plans, he replied: "After the result? Yes, it is about now. I have to see the players on the pitch and see how they feel. We will even make a short training session on Saturday morning and make a decision about the line-up."

Guardiola will leave it late to decide on the potential inclusion of top scorer Sergio Aguero, who last featured in the 1-0 win over Chelsea on March 4 and has been stepping up his recovery from a knee problem.

"I don't know right now," the manager replied when asked whether the 30-goal forward was in the running to add to his eight derby strikes. 

"We are going to have training and we are going to see his physical condition."

Lingering doubts over Aguero mean it is likely Gabriel Jesus will have a role to play.

The Brazil striker endured a particularly frustrating outing against Liverpool and was critical of his own display afterwards.

"He's so strong, he knows how we like him. He knows how we support him," said Guardiola.

"Gabriel is 21 years old, it was his birthday before the game at Anfield. It was the first time he had played an away knockout tie in the Champions League.

"You have to live those situations two or three times to be better players. Always, you suffer. The next time he will be better.

"But I do not agree with him, he played good. He did what we spoke about, he fought a lot. Always when that happens, we will be close."