Kuala Lumpur Post


Guardiola warns Leicester defeat could end Man City’s title bid

LONDON — Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City stars that a shock defeat against Leicester yesterday could end their hopes of winning the Premier League title.

Guardiola’s side host second-bottom Leicester knowing a victory would close the gap on leaders Arsenal to three points.

But the City manager is convinced Arsenal will not slip up again after last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Liverpool gave the champions renewed hope of a fifth title in six seasons.

Arsenal make the short trip across London to face struggling West Ham tomorrow, with Guardiola expecting Mikel Arteta’s men to punish any slip from second-placed City against Leicester

“Everybody knows that if we lose games we lose competitions. That’s why our attention to details is higher,” Guardiola said yesterday.

“It’s the same tomorrow — if we lose the game, we will not be champions. If we win we could still be there.

“But we cannot forget, we are six points behind Arsenal, a team who have dropped few points during the season and have one game a week, with a lot of time for recovery, to analyse and prepare for games.

“It’s so difficult if you drop points. That’s why you have to be there as much as possible.”

While Arsenal have just their eight remaining league games to play this season, City are still chasing a treble.

They will defend a 3-0 lead in the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Bayern Munich and face Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-finals, before hosting Arsenal in a crucial league clash on April 26.

Guardiola’s side have coped well with heavy schedules in the past and he hopes they can use it to their advantage again.

“Sometimes our experience, when we are playing games every three days, every four days, we are in rhythm and focus and that helps us,” he said. “In the past it was like that, playing competitions until the end.

“Sometimes when you have a week between games you lose this type of feeling.”

Fuelled by Erling Haaland’s record-breaking goal spree, City are peaking at the right time, with nine successive victories in all competitions.

Kevin De Bruyne’s creative quality has also played a big role in City’s surge, but Guardiola was forced to deny he had an issue with the Belgian after he looked frustrated at being substituted against Bayern on Tuesday.

“It’s normal. It’s not the first time it has happened in modern football, it has happened in all other clubs. It will happen in the future,” he said.

“I understand completely. Everyone wants to play but in the right moments I try to do the best to win the game.” — AFP