Pep Guardiola has announced that Manchester City’s players have no reason to be nervous or anxious in this Sunday’s Premier League title decider with Aston Villa – providing they stick to the game plan and focus on the game.
City know that victory over Villa will secure themselves the title ahead of Liverpool, with their rivals hosting Wolves at the same time in the final round of fixtures of the season.
Any slip-up will allow Liverpool to snatch the title in front of City’s noses, but Guardiola has told his side to “enjoy and suffer the moment” of trying to claim the Premier League title.
“I’ve said to our players, it’s just a football game,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference. “Don’t think about how happy or sad we’d be, just focus on what we have to do to beat Aston Villa. Having one more title, or one less one, that’s important but it’s just a football game.
“Focus on will they play [Ollie] Watkins or [Danny] Ings or just Watkins. Douglas Luiz as a holding midfielder as a three or four [midfielders]? Is John McGinn moving inside or outside. Will they play [Phillipe] Coutinho and [Emiliano] Buendia together? This is what we have to do to win the game.
“I have a feeling we will do things incredibly well. We have not been here many times in our history but we have to be anxious or nervous? No way. Just try to enjoy and suffer the moment.”
Guardiola admitted that City players could feel the nerves of having the Premier League title in their grasp with one game to do – and announced that his side will have no special pre-match arrangements before Sunday’s finale.
“It’s difficult to control your emotion,” he added. “They are human beings and there’s an anxiety of what happens if they [Villa] score. Maybe you have to live with something that’s uncomfortable but we have to react as well as possible.
“In football, it’s not over until it’s over. Don’t give up and do what you’ve done in the last month and go for it. What we plan is just a football game, nothing differently.
“We won’t do something new, everybody will be at home before the game with the families. We prepare the game to win against Aston Villa, and we will go to the plan to try to beat Aston Villa. No more than that. We can make theories, but it’s just a football game with 11 players and a good manager who will try to beat us.”
What are the final day title race permutations?
Manchester City (90 points) have already won three Premier League titles on the final day of the season – in 2012, 2014 and 2019 – and they could do so again this Sunday. Pep Guardiola’s men lead Liverpool by a solitary point.
So this means:
- Manchester City will win the Premier League if they beat Aston Villa on Sunday – or match Liverpool’s result at home to Wolves.
- Should City draw against Villa, Liverpool will be crowned champions if they beat Wolves.
- Given their inferior goal difference, a draw would only be enough for Liverpool to be champions on Sunday if Manchester City lose by a seven-goal margin to Aston Villa.
An unlikely play-off for the Premier League title is still possible, in the event of both Man City and Liverpool finishing on the same number of points, goal difference, goals scored and goals conceded – with their head-to-head record already level.
For that play-off to happen, Manchester City would need to lose 6-0 at home to Villa, with Liverpool and Wolves drawing 5-5 at Anfield.
Sky Bet odds to win Premier League…