Guardiola unconcerned by schedule's impact on Premier League title race

Liverpool playing their next two matches after Manchester City will not impact the Premier League title race, according to Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola does not feel the Premier League schedule will have an impact on the title race between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Last season's champion is four points behind Liverpool but has a chance to exert pressure on the leader in its next two matches.

City goes to Newcastle United on Tuesday with Liverpool hosting Leicester City the following day, and the Reds' subsequent game at West Ham next Monday comes 24 hours after Guardiola's men welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium.

While City has been playing catch-up it can now take the initiative, having won its last eight games in all competitions - doing so without conceding a goal in the previous six.

Guardiola, however, does not feel it is relevant whether Liverpool or City play its matches first over the course of the run-in.

"In both situations, playing before or after, we have to win the games or it's over," he told reporters.

"Every game is a final, cups are also a final, Burnley [on Saturday in the FA Cup fourth round] was a final. What should we do playing after? We have to win. Before? We have to win. Simple.

"All the teams want to fight for the title and feel the pressure. We have it and we feel it, we have to handle it. So many, many points to play [for] - many, many games - a lot of games in our legs and minds, change competitions day by day.

"Believe me we don't think about that, don't get distracted from what we have to do. Same against Burnley, imagine what Newcastle will do in the game and focus on what we have to do. That's the only way to be consistent and try to win every game."

Fluent in attack

Rafael Benitez's Newcastle has used a defensive approach in recent Premier League clashes with City, but Guardiola suggested those tactics suit his side.

"Newcastle play quite similar to Burnley, the setup will be quite similar," he said. "Of course every team is different with the setup and in our experience with Newcastle in the last two seasons against my colleague it's always tough - 0-1 there, 3-1 here - so it was tight. 

"It will happen tomorrow as they defend really well but also at the same time I feel we attack better against this type of defence. We control their counter-attacks better and we concede few set pieces and we attack more fluently."

Playing to our strengths

Benitez is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge facing his Newcastle side, which is 17th in the Premier League and was knocked out of the FA Cup at home to Watford on Saturday.

"If you analyse the way they can play, they have three or four of the fastest players in the Premier League," Benitez said.

"They won the title because they're a very good team. They have everything - but we'll try to use our strengths. I'm confident that we can do well but at the same time, we have to do everything perfect to have a chance."

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