Pep Guardiola expects the title race to come down to the final game of the season and added it could even be decided by goal difference again.
Manchester City won the most extraordinary title in Premier League history in 2012 when Sergio Aguero’s 94th-minute goal put them ahead of rivals United on goal difference on the final day of the season.
And the City boss believes something similar could happen this year, telling his players to go all out for goals when they can ahead of their chance to move to back to the top with a win over Everton on Wednesday night.
“I’m pretty sure the winner will be the last fixture or the last two. I’m sure of that,” Guardiola told a news conference. “The first message is to win the game and the second one is if you can score, score and if you can avoid to concede, do it.”The Premier League could go to goal difference, I agree.”
City’s opportunity to return to the top has come as something of a surprise after their shock defeat to Newcastle last week, but leaders Liverpool have since suffered back-to-back draws.
And Guardiola believes his players are ready for the challenge of a tight title race, citing their attitude in last season’s Champions League when they fought strongly after losing a first leg 3-0 to Jurgen Klopp’s side and were denied a penalty in the second leg.
“I trust my players because, and I use this example always, we were 3-0 down in Champions League in Anfield and the reaction when we played them the second time when we scored a legal goal and an incredible penalty in the second half when Andrew Robertson. Raheem Sterling,” he said. “The way we react and the way we to play that’s good.
“I have the feeling that when I put them [under] pressure they react good. They accept the challenge to say okay when we speak I say ‘okay show me again how good you are, come on.’ And they do it and they try it.”
Guardiola has almost a full squad to choose from for the trip to Goodison Park, but Bernardo Silva seems certain to start.
The Portuguese international has been in impressive form this season and the City boss described him as almost undroppable despite him competing with Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Sterling for a starting spot. “To drop Bernardo Silva right now is almost impossible, it’s him and 10 more players right now,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t know what happens at the end but what he’s done so far — every single game he’s been perfect. Perfect. The movement offensively and defensively, the way he lives the game, every time we miss a chance he has that reaction ‘Aarrghh.’
“The other guys have to compete with Bernardo in that position. That doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence in the others or they don’t have the ability to play there. They show me in every game many games and who deserves to play.”