Premier League: Guardiola says busy schedule can be a benefit in title race

Manchester City host Leicester City on Saturday, sandwiched between the first and second legs of their Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich, a stretch of three games in eight days

By Reuters

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Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (right). — AFP
Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (right). — AFP

Published: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 12:01 AM

Manchester City faces a breathless schedule for the remainder of the season thanks to their progress in the Champions League and FA Cup, but manager Pep Guardiola has mixed feelings on whether playing more games is beneficial.

"When it's a game every three, four days we are in rhythm, incredible focus, it helps us," Guardiola said on Friday.

Manchester City host Leicester City on Saturday, sandwiched between the first and second legs of their Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich, a stretch of three games in eight days.

Guardiola's team is chasing a less busy Arsenal in the Premier League title race, and the Spaniard said one more loss this season and they won't retain their crown.

"Everyone knows if we lose those games we will not win the title," the Spaniard said. "That is why our intentions and details are higher. It is the same (Saturday), if we lose the game we will not be champions.

"If we win, we could be still there, because we cannot forget, we are six points behind Arsenal, a team that dropped few, few points during the season and playing one game a week, with a lot of time for recovery, analyse and prepare for games."

Manchester City is unbeaten in 13 matches in all competitions and had no trouble dismantling Bayern Munich in a dominant 3-0 win on Tuesday, to continue its quest for its first Champions League crown.

Asked if his team's past success can impact them over the crucial next few weeks, Guardiola said his players understand the gravity of every moment.

"The only impact I believe is the fact that everyone knows, in their complete body from the top to the bottom, that if we lose it is over," he said.

"It is the best way to compete because in every action and set pieces, the players... feel it in that action, that we need to win it, otherwise we are going to lose the game.

"This is when you have the best. The reality is we are six points behind, no guarantee we will win the games in hand."

Arsenal was held to a 2-2 draw by Liverpool last weekend, giving Manchester City, who has also played one fewer game than the Gunners, a window to narrow the gap and set up what should be a thriller at the Etihad Stadium when the league-leader visits on April 26.

Leicester City, meanwhile, is in the relegation zone in 19th place, but just two points behind Everton in 17th.

Arsenal plays West Ham United on Sunday.

FIXTURES

SATURDAY

Aston Villa vs Newcastle, 3.30 pm

Southampton vs Crystal Palace, 6 pm

Everton vs Fulham, 6 pm

Tottenham vs Bournemouth, 6 pm

Wolves vs Brentford, 6 pm

Chelsea vs Brighton, 6 pm

Man City vs Leicester, 8.30 pm

SUNDAY

West Ham vs Arsenal, 5 pm

Forest vs Man United, 7.30 pm

MONDAY

Leeds vs Liverpool, 11 pm

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