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FootballMan City v Palace live team news: Foden benching 'difficult', says Guardiola...

Man City v Palace live team news: Foden benching ‘difficult’, says Guardiola as Haaland, De Bruyne play

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was “not stupid” after making the “difficult” decision to start Phil Foden on the bench at Crystal Palace despite the midfielder scoring a hat-trick against Aston Villa three days earlier.

Guardiola restored top scorer Erling Haaland, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and defender John Stones to his Premier League starting line-up following the 4-1 win at home to Villa – but Foden missed out as the Cityzens attempted to at least go level on points with leaders Liverpool in the first match of the weekend in the top flight.

“It was difficult but it’s not just him – it’s all the guys,” Guardiola told TNT Sports. “As a manager, when you don’t allow players to play with your decisions, it is always tough.

“I’m going to tell you something: if we win, it’s a great decision. If we lose, ‘why did you do that?'”

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Foden has contributed 21 goals and 10 assists in 44 appearances in all competitions as part of an outstanding campaign for the 23-year-old.

Guardiola said the City academy product “could not move” after featuring for 80 minutes against Villa, 61 minutes in a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal on Sunday and the entirety of England’s late-March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley Stadium.

Palace v City: Guardiola makes changes

“There are a lot of games,” cautioned Guardiola, who added that he had “definitely” considered “a lot” starting Foden and De Bruyne in central midfield.

“I would love to have Phil on the pitch. I know, I’m not stupid; I like to see him.”

The Spaniard said he genuinely believes City will need to win all eight of their remaining league matches if they are to defend their title.

A four-goal margin of victory at Selhurst Park would send City top before second-placed Arsenal, who started the day two points above Guardiola’s side, visit Brighton & Hove Albion at 17:30 GMT on Saturday.

Liverpool travel to Manchester United on Sunday (15:30 GMT), when Guardiola will be hoping the hosts can inflict another defeat on the visiting Reds.

Jurgen Klopp’s players suffered their only loss in their last 12 matches in all competitions when they were beaten after extra time at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

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