Manchester City FC

Pep Guardiola insists 'extraordinary' Man Utd can take title race to the wire

Tom Gott
Apr 30, 2021, 3:45 PM GMT+1
Pep Guardiola has one hand on another Premier League title
Pep Guardiola has one hand on another Premier League title | Pool/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is not thinking about winning the Premier League title again just yet as he believes Manchester United have the quality to catch them.

City enter the weekend ten points clear at the top of the table and can be confirmed as champions by Sunday evening if results go their way. For that to happen, Guardiola's men must beat Crystal Palace on Saturday and then hope United lose against Liverpool 24 hours later.

Riyad Mahrez
City can be confirmed as champions this weekend | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

It has long seemed like a question of 'when' rather than 'if', but Guardiola told his pre-match press conference that he will not start thinking about title celebrations until it is mathematically impossible for United to catch up.

"Crystal Palace has always been so difficult for us," he confessed. "I don't remember an easy game. All we can do is try to win.

"Don't ask me what I will feel when I still haven't experienced it - because it didn't happen. I know you're curious to anticipate it but we saw yesterday another example of the contender we are up against.

"United is an extraordinary team and we need five points to be champions. Tomorrow we have an incredible opportunity to make this step.

"Once we win this game, we will think about what will happen and then you can ask me whatever about my feelings. All I can do now is recover as well as possible from the game we played in Paris.

"It is our sixth game in a row away. It is a lot of travel and we are tired in many aspects and that's why we travel there, we play tomorrow at 12:30 - we have no extra time to recover from Paris and we have to focus on what we can do to pick up an important victory to be closer than ever to being champions after playing for ten months.

"I'm sorry not to answer your question but this is the reality. It is Crystal Palace, a Roy Hodgson team. Every time we have faced them we had a lot of problems to win the game."

Guardiola went on to stress that City's imminent success this season is largely due to the team's refusal to get ahead of themselves, instead taking everything one game at a time.

"The success of the season so far is the quality and humanity of the players," he said. "The second is not thinking too far ahead and of course all the managers want to ask the players to express themselves as who they are as a team. Every team has its own identity.

Pep Guardiola
Guardiola has always stressed the need to focus | BSR Agency/Getty Images

"In important games where you don't have a second chance, Palace is an important game but in knockout games like Chelsea, Tottenham or Paris there are no half chances and the approach is to try to reach our level in these stages. There will be another example next Tuesday [against PSG].

"But without the quality and the humanity of the players, you can demand or suggest something but if they don't have it then we don't have it."

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