Nothing would please Manchester City fans than winning the Premier League title today against bitter rivals Manchester United, with Pep Guardiolaâ€™s men needing just three points to clinch the title. Though the Red Devils may have conceded the title to the Citizens, nothing would be more humiliating to their travelling fans than seeing their â€˜noisy neighbourâ€™ clinch the title at their expense. Considering the rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Guardiola, the Portuguese would do everything to delay Cityâ€™s title celebrationM anchester City can ease the pain of their Champions League defeat to Liverpool by clinching the Premier League title against bitter rivals Manchester United today in record time.
Pep Guardiola’s men will become the first team in the league’s 26-year history to wrap up the title with six games to spare if they beat United at the Etihad â€“ a fitting end to a season of almost total dominance in the league.
City are 16 points clear of Jose Mourinho’s second-placed team so it is a matter of when rather than if they wrap up the Premier League title, the first of Guardiola’s reign in England.
The runaway leaders will be desperate to reassert themselves after their chastening 3-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions league quarterfinal at Anfield.
But the derby comes just three days before the return leg of their European tie and Guardiola faces a difficult balancing act, still believing he can overturn the Champions League deficit at the Etihad.
After decades of living in United’s shadow, City have changed the balance of power in Manchester firmly in their favour and are on the verge of their third title since 2012.
Having endured a disappointing first season with City, Guardiola has silenced the critics who claimed his purist principles would not work in the cut-throat Premier League, meshing his desire for a smooth passing style with an ability to compete physically.
Belgian midfielder De Bruyne has been their driving force, while David Silva, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero have all played key roles.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola won his first English silverware in February when City trounced Arsenal in the League Cup final.
By then, City had already turned the title race into a lengthy coronation and it would be fitting if they complete their journey with one more record-breaking victory, even though their probable Champions League exit threatens to cast a shadow over the celebrations.
City set a record earlier this season by winning 18 successive league matches and a host of other statistical milestones are within their reach.
Currently on 84 points, the leaders are chasing Chelsea’s Premier League record tally of 95 points set in 2004-05. With 27 wins so far, they can also beat Chelsea’s high of 30 victories set last season.
United won the title by the widest margin when they took it by 18 points in 1999-2000 but that record could also fall to City, who, with 88 goals scored, have their sights set on Chelsea’s 103 netted in 2009-2010.
City’s dominance has been so overwhelming that many are already ranking them among the best teams in Premier League history, alongside the likes of Arsenal’s “Invincibles”, who won the 2003-04 title without losing a single match, and United’s 1999 treble winners.
Meanwhile, Guardiola might still be tempted to field a weakened side against rivals Manchester United with a crucial Champions League clash against Liverpool to come next week, and a 3-0 deficit to overturn, the Catalan coach faces a dilemma.
Having watched their rivals Manchester United dominate English football for the majority of the 1990’s and the new millennium, City fans are relishing their opportunity to get one over their bitter foesÂ on Saturdayat the Etihad Stadium.
The task is a simple one â€“ beat United and City will seal the fastest-ever Premier League title in front of their own fans, forcing United to look on with envy.
In ordinary circumstances, Guardiola would not even entertain the idea of deploying anything other than his strongest team to secure his first league title in England, and keep City on course for a record points haul.
However, what happened at AnfieldÂ on Wednesdaywould have given the Catalan coach food for thought. Liverpool blew City away in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie with a blistering display of attacking football.
That 3-0 defeat leaves City on brink of an exit from a competition many tipped them to win, given their relentless league form. Guardiola, though, is not giving up just yet.
“I believe a lot in this team,” he said afterÂ Wednesday’smatch. “Nobody believes we will go through. We will convince ourselves…”
Tuesday’sÂ second leg at the Etihad comes just three days after the Manchester derby â€“ a match City do not necessarily have to win.
City need just two wins from their remaining seven league games to seal that third Premier League crown, and that is assuming United win all of their remaining games, starting at the Etihad.
Losing to United would upset fans, but is unlikely to be detrimental to City’s season. Not overturning their 3-0 deficit against Liverpool, though, would leave them to pick up the pieces of another failed campaign in Europe.
City have only once reached the Champions League semifinals despite investing eye-watering sums of money in their playing squad.
United are likely to put everything into today’s encounter, and with it being a derby clash, the chances are elevated of some tough tackles flying in. Guardiola will know that an injury to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva would seriously harm their chances of a Champions League turnaround.
What they said?
“Nobody believes but we have another game. We see what happens. Of course it is difficult but we believe. We have to accept it and now we have United at home and then Liverpool at home,” – Man City manager Pep Guardiola
“Manchester City is not important for me. What is important for me is that since the moment we left first position and went to Â¬second, we stayed there for the whole of the season. We deserved to be second, in spite of what you can say, the criticisms you make. You all say the third, fourth, fifth, sixth (placed teams) are better than us, but theyâ€™re not, because we have more points than them,â€ Man United boss Jose Mourinho.
“This game doesn’t come in an ideal situation, for there’s quite a gap of points between the two of us, but we all know that it’s a special game. We’re looking forward to playing against them and having a good performance. That’s what our fans deserve.” â€“ Man United playmaker Juan Mata.