Phil Foden dropped by Man City as Pep Guardiola takes huge Crystal Palace gamble | Football | Sport

John Stones and Oscar Bobb have also come into the side with Guardiola opting to rotate his squad ahead of a Champions League trip to Real Madrid on Tuesday, but it is the omission of Foden, 23, that will turn heads. And his manager admitted the decision was a difficult one.

“We have a lot of games (to play)” Guardiola told TNT Sports. “We played against Arsenal for 96 minutes, there’s been friendly games for the national team as well, so that’s why we’ve decided that (to drop Foden).

“Let me tell you something, if we win the game it will be a great decision. If we lose people will ask me ‘Why did you do that?’ and that is how it is.”


Guardiola also denied suggestions from Rio Ferdinand that he was reluctant to field De Bruyne and Foden in the same XI. “I would love to have Phil on the pitch. I’m not stupid,” he replied, while laughing. “Like I said there is a lot of games and there is a lot of players. And that’s why I’ve decided what I have.”

Foden has struck 14 times in the Premier League this season, and 21 times for the club overall. Both figures represent a season best for the youngster, who has prompted renewed calls for Gareth Southgate to regularly start him in an England shirt.

And after the game at Villa Park, the forward reiterated his belief that his best position lies in the middle. Foden has frequently been deployed out wide for club and country, a notion that ample pundits have argued suppresses his attacking talent.

City’s situation in the title race heightens the perception that Guardiola has taken a risk. The champions will kick-off at Selhurst Park three points off leaders Liverpool, and two off second-placed Arsenal.

But City have the chance to draw first blood this weekend. Arsenal don’t play until 5.30pm at Brighton, while Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

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