Focus is on Anfield: Pep

Kevin de Bruyne celebrating with Manchester City's three scorers against Everton - Gabriel Jesus (far left), Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. City can seal the EPL title by beating United in Saturday's Manchester derby but, before that, they take on L
Kevin de Bruyne celebrating with Manchester City's three scorers against Everton - Gabriel Jesus (above), Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. City can seal the EPL title by beating United in Saturday's Manchester derby but, before that, they take on Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

But City's Laporte knows lifting league title against United is a 'once-in-a-lifetime' chance

LONDON • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claimed his focus is on their two-legged Champions League quarter-final tie with Liverpool even though they could be crowned Premier League champions against Manchester United this weekend.

City eased to a 3-1 win over Everton last Saturday courtesy of goals from Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling and were good value for their victory even though Yannick Bolasie pulled a goal back for the Toffees.

City's focus will now switch to the first leg of their Champions League tie against Liverpool on Wednesday before a mouthwatering opportunity to wrap up the title against the Red Devils at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

And Guardiola preferred to look at the bigger picture and refused to indulge in what it would mean to beat United to clinch the title.

"I understand people are going to talk about United but now all the decisions are about Liverpool," Guardiola said. "We are closer than ever. We have one game to win. If we are not able to win, we have six more chances.

"We have to go to Anfield with good feelings. Now we have a few days to prepare for this game."

EYES ON THE REDS, NOT RED DEVILS

I understand people are going to talk about United but now all the decisions are about Liverpool. We are closer than ever. We have one game to win. If we are not able to win, we have six more chances.

PEP GUARDIOLA , Manchester City manager, on why Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final, first-leg clash against Liverpool is the priority. Three days later, they can win the Premier League title by defeating neighbours Manchester United.

Yet the prospect of celebrating the title against city rivals United is a dream scenario for City supporters and defender Aymeric Laporte wants to make their wish come true.

"Obviously that is a very important game on Saturday. I think it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we must take advantage of it," said the Frenchman.

"We must try to win and get the Premier League we all want."

He was deployed at leftback in a possible selection hint for Wednesday, with City needing to quell the threat of Liverpool's prolific Mohamed Salah.

"It felt really good. It is a different position, but we worked over the week in training sessions and I felt fine," he said. "We know Liverpool is a difficult game. They have great players and are in great shape.

"We need to be 100 per cent focused to have a chance to win."

United maintained their bid to finish as runners-up after Romelu Lukaku scored the 100th goal of his Premier League career in a 2-0 win over Swansea that saw them regain second place from Liverpool.

United boss Jose Mourinho had accused his players of lacking "personality, class and desire" in the FA Cup quarter-final victory over Brighton two weeks ago and they responded in style to the criticism.

"The first half was perfect," said Mourinho. "They (Swansea) didn't cross the halfway line, they didn't have one shot. We were so strong, we had lots of movement, lots of passing, we arrived in many dangerous positions, scored two, should have had at least one more."

Former United manager Tommy Docherty, however, does not think Mourinho will enjoy a long stay at the club.

The Scot, who managed United from 1972-77 and will turn 90 later this month, poked fun at Mourinho by telling BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: "If he was made of chocolate he would eat himself.

"You can't argue with his record, but I think he goes over the score with his criticism of players. He has bought those players and then he is criticising them afterwards...

"I don't think the board will put up with his antics."

In another dig at Mourinho, he said he prefers to watch City.

"I don't watch them a lot because I watch Manchester City a lot - because they are great to watch. They play football the way I like to play it," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2018, with the headline 'Focus is on Anfield: Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe