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Guardiola says Premier League is most important trophy as he discusses pressure ahead of title decider

Pep Guardiola insists the Premier League is the most important trophy for Manchester City and has discussed the pressure ahead of the club’s title decider.

City take a one point lead into the final fixtures of the Premier League season this weekend and know a win over Aston Villa at the Etihad will secure a fourth league title in just five seasons.

 

Guardiola’s side can reaffirm their status as the Premier League’s dominant side with a win on Sunday and the Spaniard insists winning the league title is the most ‘difficult’ achievement and most important competition.

“Because it’s more difficult. A lot of weeks, a lot of games struggle with injuries, good and bad moments, different situations. The success is being there in the last few years,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“Liverpool were unstoppable that year and we were not good enough, the rest we were there.

“When you fight for the Premier League it gives the sense you enjoy the locker room. We are happier in our lives, when you win and win it makes good training and environment. It’s not just one single game like the FA Cup, it’s a consistent team. You want to change different things, experiences. In terms of Premier League, it’s more every day, it’s nice.”

“I’m not saying Champions League is not important,” he added. “We’d love to be in Paris next week. Always to win 38 games, or 6-7 games is different. Always I like it, it’s nice. We are close.”

Guardiola believes his side have improved from last season’s title success despite a ‘similar’ season, insisting the return of crowds and improved opponents have increased the level of his team.

“Quite similar, we behave really well, our opponents are better than last season, Liverpool had lots of injuries. This season was better because there were spectators. In terms of how we played and behaved, in points, goals, conceded.”

Liverpool will be hoping to capitalise on a slip from City and secure the title on the final day, with the Reds facing Wolves at Anfield.

Guardiola opened up on the pressure his side have felt from Jurgen Klopp’s team, who have remained unbeaten in 2022 to move within a point of the league leaders.

“Similar, maybe they feel the same. It’s not unexpected. I said a month ago, we need more than 90 points. The last 51 games Liverpool lost one. When you face this kind of team, you have to be good and win the last game. Otherwise with their results they are fantastic.”

This weekend will be the fourth time City have headed into the final day needing a win to secure the Premier League title, having done so successfully in 2012, 2014 and 2019.

The conclusion to the 2011/12 season remains the most iconic in the division’s history, as Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time goal against QPR snatched the title for City at the Etihad.

Guardiola admits it is difficult to control emotions in high pressure games, but has urged his side to keep their focus regardless of how the game unfolds.

“It’s difficult to control emotions, you know what you’re playing for. We spoke about that, maybe you have to live with something unexpected. React best as possible, if it’s over, it’s not over. When it’s over think it’s not over. Do exactly what we have done the last month, go for it.

“At the end, we play just a football game. We are not going to do something new. We arrive 2-3 hours before, we prepare vs Villa as we do always. Go to the plan and beat Aston Villa. At the end we can make theories but it’s just a football game. 11 players, a good manager. Apart from that, we didn’t do anything different. Today we train, a normal Premier League game, nothing special.”

“I said to the players it’s just a football game, don’t focus on anything else,” he added. “If you think about it being one more title, it’s a football game. Ings and Watkins, how we face this process, Luiz as a holding midfielder, Digne moving inside or outside, this is what we think about.

“I’m sure our people will be as one. I have a feeling our supporters will be incredible. As a club, we haven’t been here many times. Anxious, nervous? No way. If we concede or struggle, come on, try again, continue and do it. It’s the best way to approach this kind of situation. Not ‘what happens if we lose?’ What is the movement and set pieces of Villa? This is the only way, all that matters.”

Read – Premier League preview: Eight talking points ahead of the weekend’s action

Read Also – Down to the wire: The eight times the Premier League title was decided on the final day

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