Julian Alvarez was an unused substitute in Manchester City’s defeat to Manchester United – a move from Pep Guardiola which seemed strange as Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden all failed to register a shot on target.
But there may have been a fitness reason why Pep opted against bringing him on, as Alvarez had played two full domestic cup games days before Saturday’s Manchester derby. The 22-year-old was given an extended break after the World Cup and needed to be eased back gently.
So with Alvarez playing a full 90 minutes in City’s FA Cup win over Chelsea on January 8 and in their EFL Cup defeat over Southampton on January 11, a three-day rest before the derby wasn’t enough.
The Argentine international has eight goals with two assists from 23 appearances in all competitions this season, but he’s started just three of his 13 Premier League outings.
Despite showing promise and having a good World Cup campaign, Alvarez still isn’t trusted in the top-flight. He’s been an unused substitute in City’s last two league games, playing just seven minutes since early-November, so his omission on Saturday perhaps wasn’t a major shock.
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