Pep Guardiola explains Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne & Grealish substitutions

Pep Guardiola gives Riyad Mahrez instructions in Manchester City's Premier League game against Leicester in April 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he made early substitutions in the champions' 3-1 win over Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday 'to avoid injuries'.

City stormed into a 3-0 lead against the Foxes inside 25 minutes at the Etihad, with Erling Haaland scoring twice after John Stones' opener, but Guardiola rang the changes in the second half.

Stone and Haaland were replaced by Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez at the interval, with Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish all brought off in the second half as Kalvin Phillips, Cole Palmer and Sergio Gomez were introduced.

"I had to avoid [injuries]," Guardiola told Sky Sports after the game. "I always have to push ourselves better and avoid it. Normally when you make changes it happens."

Haaland levelled the record for goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season as he reached 32 in the competition, but Guardiola had spoken before the game about how the club were monitoring the Norwegian's fitness 24 hours a day to ensure he avoids injury.

City travel to Bayern Munich for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, having won the first match 3-0 last week. Guardiola's side are also in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and have eight matches left in the Premier League as they look to catch leaders Arsenal and retain their title.

"It was a really good game after the Champions League as well, against a team that is fighting in a difficult position for them," Guardiola said. "In the end when you make a lot of substitutions you drop a little bit. [We got the] three points and onto the next one.

"It was completely different because the guys that start the second half it was the same approach as the beginning. I have a little bit of experience to play in three days in the important stages and you make a lot of substitutions and some dynamics we have and some players don't.

"And when the game was under control we made the changes."

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.