Pep already preparing for reds

Everton the focus as City aim to wrap up EPL fast but Champs League a factor in team pick

LONDON • During the two-week international break, Pep Guardiola analysed Manchester City's past games against Merseyside opponents. They were not just of Everton - their opponents in the English Premier League today.

In a potentially rare hint of City's priorities as they approach a tough stretch - Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham in the next fortnight - Guardiola admitted he has been studying games involving the Reds.

The two-legged Champions League quarter-final tie against Jurgen Klopp's men beginning on Wednesday could yet influence Guardiola's team selection today.

But the Spaniard insisted City's focus is now on the Toffees as the title race is not over.

"We have Everton tomorrow and Goodison is always tough," said the City manager, who ruled John Stones out of the trip to Goodison Park. "Then it is Manchester United and the derby is difficult. And we all know how tough Tottenham will be at Wembley. We'll celebrate when it's done."

Leaders City have 81 points - 16 more than nearest rivals United - from 30 games.

A win over Everton will put City in position to lift the league title after the Manchester derby next Saturday. It will also complete a rare Premier League feat as City would have defeated each of the other 19 teams this season. Only Chelsea in 2005-06 and United in 2010-11 managed to do that en route to the title.

  • Derby D-Day

  • If Manchester City want to become Premier League champions next Saturday, they have to match or better Manchester United’s result today.

    Maintaining or widening their 16-point gap over United is necessary if Pep Guardiola’s men want to win the title against their neighbours at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola has yet to beat Everton despite three previous meetings, with City losing 0-4 on their last visit to Goodison.

"I don't think we played as bad as the result showed," he told a press conference yesterday. "Tomorrow is another game, you start 0-0."

United are also expecting a difficult game against Swansea at Old Trafford. They recorded 4-0 and 2-0 (League Cup) wins at Swansea this season but face a side transformed by Carlos Carvalhal.

"We are going to face a team that is well organised... dangerous in counter-attack, powerful in set pieces," said boss Jose Mourinho.

EVERTON V MAN CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Pep already preparing for reds'. Print Edition | Subscribe