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Guardiola expects Premier League title race to go to the wire

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has told his side to prepare for another Premier League title race that goes all the way to the last day of the season.

Reigning champions City have been playing catch-up this term in a three-way clash with Arsenal and Liverpool.

City maintained their charge by drawing level on points with second-placed Liverpool, and moving just one behind leaders Arsenal, with a commanding 4-1 win at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday featuring a hat-trick from England midfielder Phil Foden.

Liverpool, however, can regain top spot when they play their game in hand against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United later Thursday.

Guardiola continues to insist his side are only third favourites to lift the Premier League trophy as they seek to be crowned champions of England for an unprecedented fourth successive season.

But he expects City to remain in the hunt, with the Spaniard saying: “If we win all our games it will go until the last day because they are not five, six, seven points in front.

“It will not be easy. The feeling I have is not easy. I see Liverpool and Arsenal playing, they don’t drop points, it will not be easy.

“But we have to do our job and don’t regret, ‘Oh, we should have won that game because they lost after’. We cannot do anything, we do not play against them any more so we don’t control what Liverpool and Arsenal do. All we can do is win our games.”

Even with Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland only among the substitutes ahead of next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid, there was no denying City’s dominance against Villa.

But Guardiola snapped back at reporters when asked if City were finding form at the right time following the criticism of his team following Sunday’s goalless draw with Arsenal.

“We were out of the title race three or four days ago and not playing good, the team was not playing like we did the last six seasons. Now we are in the best form in the league? Come on, guys…”

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added: “We’ve won a lot of the last games. I cannot say in the game against Arsenal I didn’t recognise my team. We were there all the time, we didn’t create chances because of the quality of defence and because we missed some presence in the box, but the rest, I recognise completely my team.

“That’s why we are calm. As I said, it’s tight, it’s not seven or eight points. It’s close. We have to wait. They have to lose points, otherwise it will not be possible, but again the team has been exceptional this season, exceptional.”

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