Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City’s players will give “all of their lives” against Aston Villa on Sunday after his side’s comeback against West Ham left them needing one more victory to seal a second successive Premier League title.
City know that victory against Steven Gerrard’s side will be enough to see off Liverpool’s challenge despite Riyad Mahrez’s failure to seal a comeback win at the London Stadium. Having trailed 2-0 at half-time after Jarrod Bowen struck twice, Jack Grealish and an own goal from Vladimir Coufal enabled City to battle back before Mahrez was denied from the spot by Lukasz Fabianski.
Liverpool must now beat Southampton on Tuesday night and hope their former captain Gerrard can inspire his team to produce a result at the Etihad Stadium to have a chance of overhauling their rivals. But with a full house expected as City attempt to win a fourth title in five seasons under their manager, Guardiola is confident that his players can seize the moment.
“I can assure you something – that we will give them all of our lives to do it,” he said. “It’s an incredible privilege to have the chance to become champions in front of our people at home and I’m looking forward to it. We will rest for a couple of days and try to be ready for Villa but the positive thing is it’s still in our hands. They are desperate to win it and we have showed that all season.
“I have a feeling every time that you win a title that it gets more difficult. But this is what you expect when you are up against a team like Liverpool. We know we can’t make a mistake.”
City ended their 44-year wait for a league title thanks to Sergio Agüero’s last-minute goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2012 season and also won the title on the final day in 2019 after beating Brighton. Asked whether next weekend could be as dramatic, Guardiola – who admitted he had decided against introducing Ilkay Gündogan at half-time – said he was hoping for a more straightforward afternoon.
“Ten years ago belongs to Sergio,” he said. “It’s similar because of the maths. It will be tough because it will be emotional but we will give absolutely everything that we have to win the title. The players have so much desire to win the game. To win the title is not just about how good we are with the ball. Of course that is important but there are many other aspects and we showed that today.”
West Ham’s point confirmed that they will at least be in the Europa Conference League next season as their captain, Mark Noble, was given a rousing send-off after 18 years at the club. David Moyes said he was delighted with the performance of his team and backed Bowen to receive his first England call-up when Gareth Southgate names his next squad.
“It’s not for me to pick the England team but I think he is doing as well as anyone in England. I thought his two goals today were fabulous,” Moyes said. “I want to try and build – next season will be hard but for us to have European football again will be fantastic.”