Pep Guardiola: Man City have one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make history

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The Manchester City manager also spoke about the unity of his squad despite ‘conflicts’ at times this season.

Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City face a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make history on Sunday.

The Blues know victory against West Ham United on the final day of the Premier League season will secure a first-place finish, and a fourth consecutive top-flight title, something no side in the history of English has achieved.

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However, should City slip up and Arsenal win, then the Gunners will secure a first league triumph in 20 years. Few expect that to happen given City’s imperious form over recent weeks and West Ham’s meagre run of results, coupled with their horrendous record against the reigning champions.

Guardiola insisted in Friday’s press conference that he believes an upset could happen, and just in case his City players need any additional motivation, the 53-year-old laid on a pre-match presentation to ‘show them how good they are’. It was a chance for Guardiola and his staff to underline just how incredible an achievement it would be for the team to win four titles in a row.

“I know today in my meeting they will be so focused,” the City boss explained. “In training, so focused because everybody knows what you are playing for, something like we are not going to live again.

“None of us, impossible. The chance to win four in a row, none of us is going to have the chance to win that again. We have to live it and enjoy what you have to do in 95, 96, 97 minutes.”

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City have a rich history of winning titles on the final day of the season and Sunday’s game could be the fifth time the club have done so in the Premier League.

Two of those famous title wins - against Queens Park Rangers in 2012 and Aston Villa two years ago - were only achieved thanks to the help of substitutes. Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli came off the bench against QPR to provide a goal and assist, while Ilkay Gundogan memorably grabbed a brace to secure victory in 2022.

It’s a fact not lost on Guardiola, especially after a gruelling season in which various players’ prevalence in the team has peaked and waned. His rotation hasn’t always gone down brilliantly with the players, but Guardiola revealed ahead of the West Ham clash.

“The game against Aston Villa, do you know who changed the game? Zinchenko. Alex changed that game,” said the former Barcelona manager. “The first half wasn’t good but he arrived at half-time and changed the game. In the first goal, the reaction from Raheem [Sterling] from the bench. So everybody is going to do his part.

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“Behind the success of arriving in this stage every single season there are a lot of factors,” he added. “The group of this season is difficult to replace. I saw when Erling Haaland scored the first goal at Spurs, the celebration from Julian [Alvarez] and Jack Grealish, how they hug each other in the touchline and how they warm up.

“To build every day, we have incredible captains, incredible relations. When they have a bad moment they solve it and talk to each other. We have had conflicts this season between them and me. How they solve it, this is the key. We make our routines every day better and better.”

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