Man City are just one win away from securing the Premier League title and they could have wrapped things up last weekend had they beaten Chelsea.
The Citizens went into the match as the favourites but it was Chelsea who ended up picking all three points thanks to a 2-1 win. And now, Man City will have to wait until the next weekend to be able to get another shot at winning the title(if Manchester United do not drop points in midweek).
Manchester City are sitting pretty at the top of the league table and they still have three more games to wrap things up so no one’s really sweating just yet. But pundit Paul Merson has warned Pep Guardiola’s men against taking their foot off the peddle, especially when they still need to play in the Champion League final towards the end of this match.
Merson told Sky Sports: “For Manchester City, they’ve won the Carabao Cup, reached their first Champions League final and on the verge of another Premier League title, but I think the next few weeks are important for them.
“They need to stay competitive, in my opinion.
“It’s hard because they’ve virtually won the league and I’m sure they’ll win it soon with potentially two or three games to go. But then they’ve got to keep their edge ahead of the Champions League final. Chelsea have still got competitive games to come before that.
“You see it in Super Bowls and sports that have play-offs where teams get a bye week and all of a sudden, the team that plays in the knockout rounds are more match sharp.
“Man City have got to play at 100 per cent to win the Premier League. Chelsea have still got a big game against Leicester in the FA Cup final and they’ve also got Arsenal to play on Wednesday. They’ve still got big games to play ahead of the Champions League final so they are going to have to keep their levels high and stay competitive, and that’s what Man City have to do too, albeit with not much to play for.
“They cannot just take their foot off the gas and wait for the Champions League final because it just doesn’t work like that. They need to play at full pelt for the last few Premier League games.
“It’s tough for Guardiola because do you play your full-strength team in the last two league games with nothing to play for? Or do you rest players? It’s hard when you’ve already won things. We’ve seen that through the years in football. We’ve seen it in Premier League games when a team goes 3-0 up.
“We even saw it on Saturday. The prime example is Aguero’s penalty and for me, that lack of intensity is already creeping in because you don’t do things like the penalty. That was a sure sign for me that they’ve got to get focused.
“When you win the league there is a natural drop off and City could just stroll through the last two league games. There’s no energy in it and all of a sudden you get to the Champions League final and for me, you just can’t turn it on and off like a tap.
“It’s a very important three weeks for Man City. Don’t get me wrong, I think they will get through it and it will be a great final. But there’s still a lot of hard work to be done by City. They need to do things properly, stay competitive and keep the players sharp building up to the final against Chelsea.”
The Man City boss chose to rest a few first-team regular on Saturday and this helped Chelsea pick up a win. But we doubt if Guardiola will make the same mistake again, especially since his players have managed a full week’s rest.
City take on Newcastle United on Friday and players like Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden are going to come back into the starting line-up for this one. If Man United win both their midweek games then Man City will give it their all to win against the Magpies on Friday just so that Guardiola can rest some players before they head into the Champions League final.