Manchester City now in the driving seat but Pep Guardiola still cautious | football news
The sky blue ribbon could already be linked to the Premier League trophy, with some headlines following Manchester City’s shock defeat at title rivals Arsenal this week.
A 4-1 thrashing of their long-time leaders at the Etihad snatched control of the race from Arsenal’s hands and put City firmly in control of their own destiny.
But City boss Pep Guardiola is too long in the tooth to clinch a fifth league title in six seasons is now a formality.
The reaction to City’s victory in the so-called title decider was understandable. It was their seventh consecutive league win and moved them two points behind Arsenal with two games to go, who had previously been eight behind.
Victory for a relentless City at Fulham on Sunday would take them into the lead and, should they achieve it, it would indeed be their title to lose, especially with home games against struggling West Ham United and Leeds United .
But Guardiola urges caution.
“I think the next three games will decide a lot,” he said. “Fulham have come from the Championship and this season has been amazing. We play at home against Leeds and West Ham. We feel comfortable here with the crowd.”
Following their reign at City, Arsenal have the weekend off to lick their wounds and regroup after the home clash with Chelsea, which was moved to Tuesday on police advice.
But there is no respite for the teams battling at the other end of the table to avoid relegation.
Time looks to be running out for bottom club Southampton after their defeat by Bournemouth on Thursday leaves them six points clear of the safety zone with five games left.
Southampton travels to third-placed Newcastle United on Sunday to face a side that has scored 10 goals in two matches and appears on the brink of a Champions League return.
The two clubs just above Saints, Everton and Leicester City, meet in a true ‘six-pointer’ on Monday.
Nottingham Forest climbed out of the drop zone with an invaluable win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday and a win at Brentford on Saturday would put even more pressure on Everton and Leicester.
Leeds, who are above Forest on goal difference, travel to near-safe Bournemouth on Sunday.
With Fulham comfortably in 10th place and Bournemouth and Forest on course for survival, it could be only the fourth time in Premier League history that all three teams promoted from the Championship avoid relegation in their first season.
The last time this happened was in 2017-18 when Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield were all grounded.
Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of finishing in the top four are almost over, although they showed some fight to draw 2-2 with fourth-placed Manchester United in Ryan Mason’s first game on Thursday, a 6-0 win at Newcastle. Four days after losing to 1.
Spurs in fifth go to Liverpool, who are seventh, on Sunday in a match that could go a long way in deciding which of the two clubs can salvage a Europa League qualification spot.
Tottenham have 54 points, the same as sixth-placed Aston Villa, with Liverpool on 53 having played a game less.
Liverpool are seeking a fourth win in a row and belatedly, the Premier League has joined the party.
“This season taught us a lesson I didn’t want to learn but the most important lesson in football is to get three points on the weekend or in the middle of the week,” said manager Juergen Klopp.
The text of this story is published from a wire agency feed without any modification.