Pep Guardiola urges Manchester City players to only focus on the football game.

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to ignore the pressure of the title race and treat Sunday’s crucial final like any other.

City hosts Aston Villa know the win will secure their fourth Premier League title in five seasons.


It’s just a soccer game, focus on the soccer game, don’t think about the consequences.

pep Guardiola

But any slip could open the door for Liverpool, just a point behind, to overtake them at the last moment.

The City manager said: “I said to the players, it’s just a football game, focus on the football game, don’t think about the consequences, about how happy we will be if we win or how sad we will be, if we lose Forget it.

“It’s just a football game, just think about what you have to do to win against Aston Villa. If you think about whether it’s a title up or a title down – yes, that’s important, everyone knows – but it’s a football game.

“Are they playing with (Ollie) Watkins or (Danny) Ings and Watkins? Will Douglas Luiz play as a defensive midfielder or in a threesome? Will (John) McGinn move outside or not?

“We have to take care of that tomorrow, we have to think about things like that if we want to win the game.”

City will get their hands on the Premier League trophy again if they win their last game (Dave Thompson/PA)

(PA Archive)

Whilst City will be favourites, Guardiola believes it helps his side that they are historically not weighed down by a burden of expectation.

He said: “As a club we haven’t been here a lot, so should we be concerned or nervous once we’re here? No, absolutely not.

“Go there and try to enjoy the game, enjoy the moments. We will suffer at moments but if we concede a goal it’s like ‘come on let’s go, try again, try again’.

“In my little experience, this is the best way to approach these situations.”

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is a potential obstacle for City (Zac Goodwin/PA)

(PA wire)

There has been much talk of the game’s Steven Gerrard subplot and the Villa manager now has a chance to finally give Liverpool a league title, which had never secured one during his glittering playing career at Anfield.

Gerrard himself has downplayed the importance of his personal associations and Guardiola is unsure they will make much of a difference.

“We can theorize, but it’s just a football game, 11 players (vs 11),” he said. “A good manager will try to beat us and we will try to beat them.”

City are bolstered by the possible return of defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones, who have recovered faster than expected from ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.

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