Pep Guardiola explains centre-back choices after West Ham win

The Manchester City manager said he is not rotating his defenders at present after Aymeric Laporte returned to the team on Sunday.

Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte. Credit: Getty.

Pep Guardiola has said squad rotation did not influence his choice when selecting his centre-backs at the weekend, despite all three of Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones sitting out one of the last three games.

It was Dias and Laporte who started in the 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Sunday, which saw Manchester City close the gap to leaders Chelsea.

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The pair put in a solid performance at the Etihad and were only denied a clean sheet by an injury-time strike from Manuel Lanzini.

John Stones missed the win over West Ham after a recent illness. Credit: Getty.

Speaking after the game, Guardiola gave an indication as to why he left Stones out for the visit of the Hammers, in place of Laporte.

"No reason why. I would like Nathan [Ake] to play more but Ayme is playing really well against teams that defend really well,” Guardiola told reporters in his post-match press conference.

"We need a guy with a left foot. John was not quite well the last two days, a bit sick, a fever after PSG, a change for the other guys."

Guardiola’s man of the match

It was an afternoon that will live long in the memory not for the excellent football on display, but for the adverse weather conditions.

At times in the first period the snow was having a significant impact on the flow of the game and the visibility.

The snow was heavy at points in Sunday’s game. Credit: Getty.

But a superb effort at half-time from the groundstaff helped shift much of the lying snow, something Guardiola was keen to acknowledge after the game.

“In the first-half it was almost impossible to play. But we have an incredible groundskeeper. Thanks to them we could play,” the Catalan said via video link.

“I think the groundskeepers, the guys who took care of the pitch, were the man of the match. They did an incredible job to make sure we could play the game today.”

Asked about how his side performed on Sunday, Guardiola added: “We came from a tough game in midweek against PSG and we know exactly which team we faced today.

“The amount of chances we created, especially in the first half, in the conditions we played, [it was a] huge victory for us, for the effort of the players and for the performance in general.

“We didn’t concede much, we defended set-pieces really well and the counter-attacks, we controlled them really well. Maybe we could have made another speed or another rhythm, but the weather conditions didn’t allow us to do it. Good performance for us.”