LEICESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City moved closer to the Premier League title with Saturday’s 2-0 win at Leicester City highlighting once more the options available to manager Pep Guardiola.
Returning from the international break, the Spaniard left out players who had been heavily involved in World Cup qualifying but it was barely noticeable as his team dominated third-placed Leicester.
England trio Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and John Stones started on the bench, along with in-form German Ilkay Gundogan, Portuguese pair Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo and Spain’s Ferran Torres.
Guardiola was delighted as Benjamin Mendy, who has fallen down the pecking order to become third-choice left-back, broke the deadlock before Gabriel Jesus added the second.
“Yesterday (Friday) the players came back and I spoke to some of them and some were tired – three games in 10 days, they travel a lot,” said Guardiola.
“So we tried to put on the fresh legs as possible today. The players who didn’t play the last game on international duty were ready to play,” he said, noting that the outstanding Kevin De Bruyne had benefitted from not playing Belgium’s third game of the break.
De Bruyne dominated the midfield and was also quick to note the way City had quickly regained their form after the fortnight absence.
“I came back on Tuesday after the game and trained on Thursday and half the team trained yesterday,” said De Bruyne.
“All we can do is rest up, be ready for the games and the manager chooses the players who have been here the longest.
“When you win the game it’s always the right pick. The team did really well and I am really pleased,” he said.
City lead second placed Manchester United by 17 points and need 11 points from their final seven matches to be sure of their third Premier League title in four years.
“After the internationals I didn’t know how the players would be. They showed how much they wanted to win the Premier League,” said Guardiola.
“It is our fifth season together. You saw the commitment – De Bruyne, Fernandinho… I love all the players winning balls in this competition. We are close, we are closer.”