Pep Guardiola urges his Manchester City side to ‘handle the pressure’ after they returned to the top of the table… as he insists the defending champions ‘have to win’ ALL eight of their remaining games to hold off Liverpool in the title race
- Manchester City beat Burnley on Saturday to return to the top of the table
- They are one point clear of Liverpool with eight games left in the season
- Pep Guardiola thinks his side will miss out on the title if they drop any points
Pep Guardiola told his Manchester City players to embrace the escalating pressure of this title race after preserving their place on top.
First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan saw City cruise to victory over Burnley at Turf Moor – shortly after Liverpool had briefly leapfrogged the champions by beating Watford.
Liverpool’s form has seen Guardiola insist that City can ill-afford to drop any points from now until the end of the season if they are to defend the title.
Kevin De Bruyne gave Manchester City the lead in the first half at Turf Moor on Saturday
Raheem Sterling (R) then set up Ilkay Gundogan (R) to double City’s advantage
‘There are eight games left, 24 points. We spoke about that, we have to feel the pressure that every game we play if we lose we are not going to win, we will be out,’ Guardiola said.
‘It’s as simple as that. Hopefully Liverpool will lose against us but apart from that I don’t think they will drop points. We have to feel this pressure and handle it. We did it in the past. We won 14 games in a row, now we have to win eight games. Otherwise we will not be champions.’
City maintained their one-point lead over Jurgen Klopp side before the two rivals meet at the Etihad Stadium next Sunday in what could prove a defining clash.
‘To be honest we don’t speak much about our contender to be champion this season,’ Guardiola added. ‘I guess the players knew the result. We will fight. The opponent is so tough and good but they said, “we will make a proper battle” and we accept that.
Pep Guardiola believes Man City must win all their remaining games to hold off Liverpool
Guardiola wasn’t happy with the pitch at Turf Moor but Sean Dyche denied that it was an issue
‘We didn’t concede many corners and free-kicks and Burnley are a top class team in those terms. We had two or three clear chances to finish the game.
‘The grass was so slow, the pitch was so high. It was not easy. It’s as long as I have played in the Premier League. The home team can decide. I can make this comment because we won. If we lost it would have looked like an excuse. It was so high. When that happens it is more difficult for us. The players adapted, I didn’t hear one complaint.’
Sean Dyche – whose side are four points behind 17th-placed Everton before the teams meet on Wednesday – contested Guardiola’s criticism of the grass length.
‘The standard they set is 30mm and we’re at 28mm,’ he said. ‘It’s about what we do from now. We have 10 efforts to get ourselves correct and move forward. We still have 10 games left and we’re still in a fight.’