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Tricky Spurs trip will put premature title celebration on hold for Sky Blues

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Guardiola’s men are charging towards the finish line, hitting 28 goals in their past seven Premier League matches and conceding just five times. But the City boss, who said he was relishing the high-pressure title run-in, denied that the race was already effectively over.

Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola. Picture: EPA, NEIL HALL

Pep Guardiola said “history is in front of us” as he prepares his Manchester City team for a potentially tricky match at Tottenham on Tuesday night that could ultimately decide the destination of the Premier League title.

City, chasing an unprecedented fourth straight top-flight English league crown, are one point behind leaders Arsenal but crucially have a game in hand. If City beat Spurs, they will be able to seal the championship with a win at home to West Ham on the final day of the season on Sunday, when Arsenal host Everton.

Guardiola’s men are charging towards the finish line, hitting 28 goals in their past seven Premier League matches and conceding just five times. But the City boss, who said he was relishing the high-pressure title run-in, denied that the race was already effectively over.

“Fifteen goals (in four matches) is fine, it gave us the points to be here but it doesn’t give you an extra thing for tomorrow when you start the game,” Guardiola said at the pre-match media conference.

“The mindset is easy, in terms of if we don’t win we are not going to win the Premier League and this is what we have to do.”

City have never won a league match at Tottenham’s new stadium, which opened in 2019, and have not even scored a goal, though they won there in the FA Cup in January.

Guardiola said despite his team’s poor record at the ground, they had played well there “many times”.

“But to do something in this country that has never been done before you have to do something special, exceptional I would say,” he said.

“It’s not ever happened in the Premier League. We have to do it this time. History is in front of us and we have to accept we have not done it. It’s the time to do it, otherwise Arsenal will be champions.”

Guardiola said he had “huge respect” for Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou, whose team still have an outside chance of securing a Uefa Champions League place for next season, though a win for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Monday night would end those hopes. “The difficulties are there but at the same time we know what we are playing for – to give us the chance for the last game at home depending on us,” he said. “This is the mindset that we have.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou said Tottenham will go all out to beat City, even though it could open the door for bitter north London rivals Arsenal to win the Premier League.

Much of the talk ahead of Tuesday night’s game has centred on whether Tottenham fans will want their team to lose to deny Arsenal the chance to win the league for the first time in 20 years. But Postecoglou bristled at the notion.

“People are allowed to feel the way they do but I think I’ve been really consistent and really strong in my beliefs that it’s important for this football club to get to where we want to, not look for a silver bullet,” he said.

“It’s hard work, perseverance, it’s resilience, it’s quality that will get us what we want, not to fall for any sort of false dawns or any short-term result reactions, stick to the course and thirdly, know what real success looks like. Real success looks like trophies. Anything else in-between, bragging rights, whatever, it is absolutely meaningless to me … we’ve got a game tomorrow (Tuesday) we want to win.“

The former Celtic boss said he was confident that supporters would be behind Tottenham on Tuiesday and that opinions online were not a good guide.

“If you go by social media there’s probably 99% of Spurs supporters who don’t (want to win against City), if that’s your world but please don’t tell me that’s your world … we’ll need to have a counselling session if that’s your world,” he said.

“I understand rivalry – I was part of one of the biggest ones in the last couple of years in the world with Celtic and Rangers but I will never understand if somebody wants their own team to lose. That’s not what sport’s about.”

AFP

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