Times of Malta

‘City experience does not matter in title race’


Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City’s experience of thriving under the pressure of a title race will not be the decisive factor in who wins the Premier League.

Guardiola’s men are aiming to become the first side to ever win four consecutiv­e English top-flight titles and claim their sixth Premier League crown in seven seasons.

However, City will have to come from behind in the final nine games of the campaign after a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal on Sunday left them still in third.

The defending champions trail leaders Liverpool by three points, with City one point behind second-placed Arsenal.

The stalemate with the Gunners means City are still to beat one of the top five in the Premier League in six attempts this season.

And Guardiola stressed the need for his side to end that record when fourth-placed Aston Villa visit the Etihad Stadium today.

“We have not many chances to drop points but there are still nine games (to go),” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference.

“Our experience is over, it doesn’t count. What counts is Aston Villa.”

City are unbeaten in 23 games, but their last defeat came away to Villa in December.

Guardiola labelled that 1-0 loss as City’s worst performanc­e of the season and knows he needs a reaction against a Villa side that have been transforme­d in 18 months under Unai Emery.

“Aston Villa are playing to qualify for the Champions League and every team is playing for something, so the last games will be difficult to manage for all of us,” added Guardiola.

“It’s excellent, the way they play. Unai Emery has consistenc­y in every season. Villa have been impressive. It’s not a surprise, the quality of him, his management and the quality of the team.”

John Stones could return to ease Manchester City’s injury problems in defence, but Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake and goalkeeper Ederson remain out.

 ?? ?? Man. City face Aston Villa in the Premier League today.
Man. City face Aston Villa in the Premier League today.

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