‘I love it’ – Guardiola relishing crunch part of City season; talks John Stones injury

Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he ‘loves’ the crucial end to the campaign as his team continues to hunt two major trophies.

The Citizens’ treble hopes came to an end last weekend when Liverpool beat them 3-2 in the FA Cup semi-final. However, Guardiola’s men could have the last laugh in the Premier League.

They sit top of the table after 32 matches, with a one-point advantage over the Reds.

Manchester City are also in the last four of the Champions League. They host Real Madrid in the first leg of the semi-final clash on Tuesday, before travelling to the Bernabeu on Wednesday May 4.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will come up against Villarreal in the other semi-final. Unai Emery’s team put in two solid displays to beat Bayern in the previous round.

City’s next game is against Watford at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon. At the pre-match press conference, Guardiola was asked for his thoughts on Erik ten Hag.

The Dutchman will take charge of rivals Manchester United next term after signing a three-year contract.

Pep Guardiola congratulates Erik ten Hag

“Watch his Ajax team and you see his qualities,” Guardiola said (via the Manchester Evening News). “Congratualations to Erik and [I] wish him all the best. A top class manager, his teams are a joy to watch.”

When asked if City have to win all of their remaining six league games to lift the title, Guardiola continued: “Of course we enjoy it, prefer to be in this position than don’t have a chance to make back-to-back titles.

“After the game remains six games, [we’ve] already qualified for the Champions League [semis] – big success. Now we target the Premier League.”

The Spaniard then responded to suggestions this is the best part of the season.

“I love it, fighting for knockout stages, every game is important. It means we have done many good things.”

Man City manager Pep Guardiola

Attention then turned to the potential absentees for Saturday. Right-back Kyle Walker could be kept on the sidelines by an ankle problem.

On the England international, Guardiola said: “He’s getting better, we’ll see tomorrow.”

Fellow defenders John Stones and Nathan Ake are also in a race against time to face Watford.

When asked about Stones’ fitness, Guardiola added: “[He has] a niggle. Little problems, like Nathan. Today we make an assessment, tomorrow we decide.”

City are yet to win the Champions League, despite it being their main goal for several years.

Reporters asked Guardiola if their UCL hunt could impact the title race. He responded: “I don’t know, I don’t think about that. I think of the players available, the best squad to beat Watford.

“To be here in the semi-finals and here to fight in the league is a joy, a pleasure. Premier League is just one month, four weeks. We try to do good games in the Champions League, then we have one more week.”

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