‘We like the pressure’ - Pep Guardiola gives Man City title verdict as Liverpool & Arsenal slip up

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The Manchester City manager admitted his players show their best at this stage of the season.

Pep Guardiola has warned title rivals Arsenal and Liverpool that his Manchester City side have more focus as they head into the final stages of the season, and expects to see the best of his team over the next few weeks.

City claimed top spot in the Premier League table on Saturday thanks to a 5-1 victory over Luton Town. But what looked set to be a short stint at the summit will last for at least a week after both Liverpool and Arsenal lost on Sunday and surrendered the opportunity to leapfrog City.

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The Red were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at Anfield by Crystal Palace to round up a miserable eight days for Jurgen Klopp, before Unai Emery led Aston Villa to hard-earned 2-0 at his former stomping ground. It means City hold a two-point lead over the chasers and are very much the favourites to claim the title with just six games remaining.

Should City finish top this season it would be a record fourth consecutive top-flight title for Guardiola’s experienced squad, who habituality save their best form for the final stretch of the season. The Blues have now gone 27 games unbeaten in all competitions and know if they can maintain similar levels over the next seven weeks then they could win a first ever back-to-back treble.

“They like to play the pressure. They know it’s dead or alive,” said Guardiola, when asked about the mindset of his players in these final weeks.

“That doesn’t mean we are going to do it but that we are going to be there until the end, I am pretty sure. I know them, I see the faces before the game and the meetings. Does that mean we win the Premier League? No, I am not saying that, but that we will compete, that is for sure.”

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City’s improvement since the turn of the year comes after the European champions were criticised earlier this season and questions were asked of their title credentials. A run of four Premier League games without a win in November and December saw the peak of those doubts from pundits and several media outlets, but Guardiola insisted at the time that he wasn’t concerned by the performance levels of his players.

“The problem is in October and November they say ‘long season’. That is the moment you have the tendency where you don’t do. “They [the players] want to try to do it but you are not completely focused. It’s normal.”

“Still we are there and being there. What a privilege. I could not change the position for any other team. After what went on this season, to live for that, play for something. For the big trophies we are still there.”

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