Manchester City must have knockout mindset in home stretch, says Guardiola
Manchester City will approach all its remaining Premier League matches like finals in a bid to stave off challenger Liverpool, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday, adding that the side must use its experience of negotiating close title races.
Leader City has collected 77 points from 32 matches for a one-point lead over a relentless Liverpool side looking to deny it back-to-back league titles, while Saturday’s opponent Watford is locked in a battle to avoid relegation.
Guardiola said those factors meant his team had to develop a knockout mindset.
“Definitely. We can’t drop points but they can’t either,” Guardiola told a news conference.
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City and Liverpool were involved in a similar title race three years ago when Guardiola’s side pipped the Merseyside club by a point on the final day as both teams went unbeaten in the home stretch of the campaign.
“The players know it, we were in this position before. We played a final versus Brighton (& Hove Albion in midweek) to be able to play another. If we win, we have a chance to play another,” said Guardiola, whose side are also in the Champions League semi-finals.
“(We will) Try to recover injured players, be fresh in the mind. When we finish tomorrow, another game in three days in the Champions League (against Real Madrid). Then Leeds United. We have to be fresh, relaxed and ready for the moment of the game.
“We have to win but perform to win, the result doesn’t come for granted. But winning is the most important thing now.”
Kyle Walker will be assessed ahead of the match following a leg injury. His fellow defenders John Stones and Nathan Ake, who were substituted in the 3-0 win against Brighton, also face late fitness tests due to niggles.