Dominic Fifield at Selhurst Park on 14 April 2019
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City will have to win their remaining five Premier League games if they are to retain the title next month after watching his team maintain the pressure on Liverpool with a ninth successive victory.
The champions’ return to the top of the table extended to only a few hours on Sunday before Liverpool rescaled the summit with victory against Chelsea. City had eased to their own win at Crystal Palace to assuage any anxiety conjured by a rare defeat against Tottenham in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, with their dominance in south London threatened only for a brief period near the end.
“This game was really good after the Champions League defeat because the stage was not easy,” said Guardiola, whose side’s winning run in the league started at the beginning of February. “We’ve played every three days [through] December, January and February but, even if we are not fresh, we have the personality for the games. We think Liverpool are going to win all their games but the Premier League is still in our hands.
“We’ll have to win every game if we want to make back-to-back titles, we know that and the players have shown they want to do it. No doubts. Why should I not trust them to continue [handling the nerves]? For a month in the Premier League we’ve known it’d be almost impossible … no, possible but very difficult, to win the title if we dropped points. We’ve played with incredible personality in all the games, including the Champions League games.
“Don’t forget we’ve had 183 points in two seasons with five games left. Those are incredible numbers, especially in the Premier League, and show how consistent we are. I knew we would produce a good performance here. Now it’s time to rest and get ready for [the second leg against] Tottenham on Wednesday.”