Much of the build-up to Liverpool's huge Premier League clash with Manchester City on Saturday was dominated by supposed injury concerns for the home side as a host of players withdrew from their international squads. When it came to it, Pep Guardiola only named eight on his bench, rather than the maximum nine, with Kevin De Bruyne, Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovačić out and Jack Grealish ill.

Still, though, there was plenty of value among the Man City reserve roster. Combined, John Stones, Joško Gvardiol, Kalvin Phillips and Sergio Gómez cost $230m (£182m/€210m), and yet Guardiola didn't unleash a single one, nor did he turn to any of his substitutes.

By contrast, his opposite number Jürgen Klopp used all five of his available changes and it made a decisive difference as Ryan Gravenberch, on for Curtis Jones within ten minutes of the second-half restart, played a key role in Trent Alexander-Arnold's equalizer with a driving run forward.

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This was the second time in 2023/24 that Guardiola hadn't made a single substitution in a Premier League match, after the 1-0 win over Newcastle in August. On that day, he engaged with a spectator who was demanding that he make a change, telling him to 'come, sit here [in the dugout] and do it' (via The Athletic).

Over the course of Manchester City's 13 games, the Spaniard has only made 37 substitutions, an average of 2.8 per match. Only four times has he surpassed the old maximum of three, and he seems particularly cautious in the bigger fixtures. In five games against Newcastle, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, he's introduced a total of seven players from the bench.

You can trace this trend back further too. Last year, Guardiola's total substitution tally (123) was fewer than any of the other managers who had taken charge of 38 games, via The Athletic.

Pep Guardiola didn't make any substitutions as Manchester City drew with Liverpool
Pep Guardiola didn't make any substitutions as Manchester City drew with Liverpool

Klopp's attitude is very different. Already this year, he's 20 substitutions ahead of Guardiola, having averaged 4.4 per game, and he's only once used fewer than four (in the 2-2 draw with Brighton in October).

Clearly, Guardiola's surprising approach didn't adversely affect Manchester City too much last season as it became the first English club to win the treble in the 21st century. But it will certainly be interesting to see how it alters the dynamics of the title race this time around, because he doesn't seem to be changing his mind.

Klopp appears much more willing to use the full extent of his squad and embrace Plan B or Plan C within matches, while also being careful to manage his players' load in the midst of a relentless three-games-a-week schedule. His great rival, however, is ready to place more faith in his 'Plan A' XI to get the job done, even if it means suffering in periods of games. On Saturday at least, as the German indirectly engineered a route back into the game for his side and Man City grew increasingly frustrated, it was Klopp's philosophy that won out.