London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola is fully expecting Manchester United to force Manchester City to keep the champagne on ice as they close in on their third Premier League title in four years.
City, 10 points clear of second-placed United with five games to go, will be crowned champions if they beat Crystal Palace on Saturday and second-placed United lose to Liverpool the following day.
Asked if he was thinking about potential success this weekend, City manager Guardiola said he first wanted to focus on the match against Palace.
“Let me travel to London this afternoon, try to wake up good tomorrow and try to win the game,” he said on Friday.
“The rest we cannot control. It is a tough job. Crystal Palace has always been so difficult for us. I don’t remember an easy game when we play against them.
“United are an extraordinary team. They’ve arrived in their best form of the season in the last two months.
“We need five points to be champions. Tomorrow (Saturday) we have an incredible opportunity to make this next step. Once we win this game, if it happens, we will think about what will happen.”
City go into the early kick-off on the back of a memorable, but draining, victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Guardiola said his side were tired after five away games in a row.
“We play at 12:30 (1130 GMT), we have no extra time to recover from the Paris game,” he said.
“We have to focus on what we have to do to achieve an important victory to be closer than ever to being champions in the Premier League, a competition we played for for 10 months, day by day. This is my only concern.”
Guardiola feels City’s game-by-game approach, when combined with the quality of their squad, has enabled them to enjoy such a successful season in circumstances made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The success of the season so far is (based on) the humanity and quality of players — this is the first thing,” said the City boss, whose side won the League Cup for the fourth consecutive time last week.
“The second (thing) is don’t think much about what we have in front of our eyes — just the next game. We did that.”
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