Man City 'very close' to dethroning Liverpool

LONDON • It is no longer a question of if but when Manchester City will secure their third Premier League title in four years after Saturday's 2-0 win at Leicester provisionally moved them 17 points clear at the top with only seven games left.

Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus scored at the King Power Stadium to lead City to their 23rd league win of the season and as such, manager Pep Guardiola feels his team are within touching distance of dethroning Liverpool (49), who are no longer able to catch City (74).

"The champions are Liverpool, they have the crown - but we are close to taking it," Guardiola said.

"I love the Premier League more than any other competition. It is 11 months and it is so tough. We are close, very close."

City's victory at Leicester meant it is mathematically impossible for the Reds, trailing by 25 points, to catch the runaway leaders with eight games to play.

Second-placed Manchester United were on 57 points before their clash against Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday.

City have won their last 15 away games in all competitions and are unbeaten in 18 matches on the road, last losing to Tottenham back in late November.

Despite facing the high-flying Foxes, who are third in the table and seeking to reach the Champions League for only the second time, Guardiola chose to heavily rotate his squad, highlighting once more the options available to him.

The Spaniard left out players who had been heavily involved in the recent World Cup qualifiers, but it was barely noticeable as his team dominated the hosts.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy (far right) celebrating with fellow defender Aymeric Laporte after scoring the opener in their 2-0 win at Leicester on Saturday. The Frenchmen were both absent from Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus squad for World Cup qual
Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy (far right) celebrating with fellow defender Aymeric Laporte after scoring the opener in their 2-0 win at Leicester on Saturday. The Frenchmen were both absent from Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus squad for World Cup qualifiers last month. PHOTO: REUTERS

Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ferran Torres were on the bench but others who have fallen down the pecking order stepped up.

"Yesterday (Friday) the players came back and I spoke to some of them and some were tired - three games in 10 days, they travelled a lot," said Guardiola.

"So we tried to put on the fresh legs as possible today... They showed how much they wanted to win the Premier League.

"I love all the players winning balls in this competition. In lockdown without spectators, every game we were there. I will never forget this season."

The loss also practically ended Leicester's faint hopes of winning only their second league title after 2015-16, with manager Brendan Rodgers admitting he was more concerned his side, 18 points behind City, do not choke again in the same fashion as last term.

The British government yesterday also confirmed City, the only English club chasing the quadruple, will take on Tottenham in the League Cup final on April 25 in front of a Wembley crowd capped at 8,000 as authorities pilot a gradual return of fans to stadiums.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2021, with the headline 'Man City 'very close' to dethroning Liverpool'. Subscribe