Treble-chasing Manchester City can tick the first box by capturing its third consecutive Premier League title this weekend in what Pep Guardiola said was the most important and difficult of the three trophies to win.
City can clinch the league without even kicking a ball if Arsenal lose at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and if not it can hoist the trophy by beating Chelsea on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.
“The Premier League is the most important competition because it’s over 10, 11 months. We are lucky to be at home with our people to take it,” Guardiola said at a press conference Friday.
“The last one is the most difficult, because there are a lot of emotions. We would not forgive ourselves if we became distracted.”
Guardiola likely will not watch Arsenal’s game.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “We have a game the day after. In my mind, I would like to think we have to win that to be champions. Celebrating with our people in the stadium would be the best.”
It would be easy to be distracted after City destroyed European powerhouse Real Madrid 4-0 on Wednesday to win its Champions League semifinal 5-1 on aggregate.
It has two more trophies to play for with the FA Cup final coming up versus Manchester United on June 3 and the Champions League final a week later in Istanbul. A triumph in the European showcase would be its first.
Asked if his team had calmed down since Wednesday, Guardiola said: “Calmed down? It’s non-stop, the most difficult thing (is coming). Tennis players say to serve to win Wimbledon is the most difficult one. On Sunday the game is in our hands.”
While City has won 11 consecutive Premier League games and is unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium in 19 straight stretching back to mid-November, Guardiola said the run of success comes from consistently rising to the occasion.
He expects no different this weekend.
“Emotions are many things,” the Spaniard said. “We cannot be distracted. We will not forgive ourselves. Focus on every single game until the end of the season to finish well...
“We have done it against Arsenal, Liverpool, United, the big teams at home. We feel we are strong, confident with our people.”
Guardiola was asked about a video that showed midfielder Kevin De Bruyne yelling “Shut up!” at him during Wednesday’s game. The manager walked back to City’s bench seemingly nonplussed after the exchange.
“The action with Kevin I love it, we shout at each other. I like it. Sometimes it’s a little bit flat, I like this energy,” Guardiola said. “It’s not the first time, you don’t see, but he shouts at me in training.
“This is what we need. After that he becomes the best. (Ilkay Gundogan) lost the ball, Kevin too, we didn’t need that in the game... It’s football, we can do it. These things must happen to be competitive.” City is four points clear of Arsenal atop the table with a game in hand. It will close the league season with matches at Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday and Brentford on May 28.
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