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City’s defeat to Chelsea last week left them 23 points off top spot and confirmed Jurgen Klopp’s side as Premier League champions, meaning the Merseyside club will be welcomed by the 2018 and 2019 winners with a guard of honour at the Etihad on Thursday.
Liverpool could increase the lead in that fixture, and there are seven games remaining in total for the gap to grow or narrow. Guardiola wants a committed performance from his players, and is keen to wrap up a top-four spot as quickly as possible, but considers the Premier League “over”.
While much has been made of the chasm between the two sides, Liverpool finished 25 points behind the Blues in the 2017/18 season and nearly made that up entirely in the following campaign.
Guardiola declared the team’s remaining seven games as an “incredible opportunity” to arrive in the best possible condition for the latter stages of the FA Cup and Champions League.
“The Premier League is over but we play every game first to qualify for the Champions League and we are still not be there,” said Guardiola.
“I know how tough it can be when you play like you are. It is not about the points gap or whatever, now it is about preparing us for the next season and the best way is to prepare us for the games against Arsenal and Madrid.
“All the games we have in the Premier League are an incredible opportunity to arrive in these two games in the best possible condition. I like the way we approached the games against Newcastle, we have suffered a lot there in previous years recently in the Premier League and dropped [more] points this season. The way we played there, that is what we want to see.”
Video: ‘Jurgen has been absolutely fantastic’ (Sky News)