Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss on title race with Liverpool
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side cannot afford a single slip-up if they want to beat “one of the best teams in football history” to the Premier League title.
City reclaimed top spot from Liverpool with a 3-0 win over Brighton and are a point ahead with six games left.
“We are not stupid,” Guardiola told BBC Sport. “If we draw, drop just two points, Liverpool will be champions.
“If we win all our games we will be champions. The players know it.”
He added: “We know the tough games we have and we must try to perform like today and win them all. If we do that we will celebrate, if not we will congratulate Liverpool.”
City and Liverpool have gone toe-to-toe all season, with both league games between the two finishing 2-2 and last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final ending 3-2 to the Reds.
The teams are also in the last four of the Champions League and are favourites to meet in the final.
But before the first legs of their European semi-finals next week – when City face Real Madrid and Liverpool take on Villarreal – Guardiola’s side host Watford in the league on Saturday before Jurgen Klopp’s men play Everton the day after.
City won their last 14 games of the 2018-19 campaign to win the title by a point from Liverpool and Guardiola says it will require the same levels of focus and consistency to seal this season’s league.
He feels the Champions League games and injuries – Guardiola says Nathan Ake and John Stones picked up minor injuries against Brighton – could be a factor.
“It happened a few years ago – we won 14 in a row to be champions. If we win all the games we will be champions,” he added.
“It depends on fatigue and injuries, it depends on the Champions League.
“We have just one month – maybe five weeks. Eleven months and it comes down to one month, we will do everything we can to be the best in those games.
“Three difficult away games [at Leeds, West Ham and Wolves] but it’s just six games and we’ll do our best, after that who knows what is going to happen.
“We are facing one of the best teams in football history – they have everything. The players know it. The game we played here [the 2-2 draw with the Reds] we were better and could not win.
“We don’t have any chance to drop any points. We’ve played with this pressure, having to win.”
Guardiola was keen to express his delight at his side’s qualification for next season’s Champions League – a feat sealed with the win over Brighton.
“This is one of the happiest days as next season we will be in the Champions League,” he said. “People take it for granted but we have to be in the Champions League.
“When it happens mathematically it’s because we have done really well. If you ask every club what their target is, it is to qualify for the Champions League. We have done it again.”