City play before Liverpool for the next three league games – against Newcastle, Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and away to Everton – but Guardiola says that will count for little if his team drop points and fail to apply pressure. Jurgen Klopp’s side could afford to lose two of their final 15 league matches if City suffer a defeat – and Guardiola has been hammering home that message to his squad.
“They [the players] know it – we spoke about it,” the City manager said. “Before [with] 85, 87, 89 [points] – you could be champions. Now you have to be over 90 points. In both situations, [playing] later or earlier, we need to win the games. If not, it’s almost over. Every game is almost a final and it’s the same in the cups.
“All the teams who want to win the title have to feel the pressure, but you have to handle it.
“I don’t know what they will think [if we close the gap to one point]. I’m not in the locker room for Jurgen’s club.
“All we can do is win our games and they will feel that Manchester City is always there. It’s all we can do. To play with them one point in front compared to four or seven or 10 – it’s different, of course, but all we can do is the same.”
Newcastle are only two points above the relegation zone but City have found the going tough on Tyneside in recent seasons and Guardiola is expecting another battle with Rafael Benitez’s side defending deep, playing on the break and utilising long balls and set-pieces.