Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday shared his thoughts on the Steven Gerrard factor ahead of his side’s clash with Aston Villa on Sunday, a clash that could result in the Premier League title slipping out of the Citizens’ hands.
Commenting on Gerrard’s connection to title rivals Liverpool, Guardiola said, “It’s completely different, we cannot compare. We’re in different positions. Both teams try to win. Sometimes you can’t control. I said to the players it’s just a football game, don’t focus on anything else.”
“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,” the Spaniard further said, shedding light on his approach to the final game of a season that has gone down to the wire.
While very few expect Villa to come out as victors on Sunday, the unpredictability of football as a sport makes the match difficult, if not impossible to call.
That being said, Guardiola and his men do have an advantage over Villa that they had not enjoyed for most of the season: having drawn with West Ham last Sunday, City players have gotten a full week’s worth of rest, unlike Villa, who played out a hard fought draw against Burnley on Thursday.
Additionally, City have also been boosted by the return of Kyle Walker and John Stones to training: the duo had earlier been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to injuries.
While Liverpool are admittedly still pushing for a quadruple, the stakes on Sunday are possibly higher for City. Having been knocked out of the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League, a Premier League title win is the only piece of silverware that Guardiola and his men can get their hands on.
Given City’s impeccable form through the Premier League season, anything but a win on Sunday will be deemed unacceptable by Guardiola, his players, and fans alike.