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Pep Guardiola's warning to his players ahead of Aston Villa showdown

City came from two down to draw 2-2 with West Ham and edge closer to clinching the Premier League title, but they now face a must-win game on the final day of the season against an Aston Villa side managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City reacts during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on May 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City reacts during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on May 15, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Kevin Palmer

Pep Guardiola's saluted his Manchester City players for what he described as "an incredible comeback" as they kept their Premier League title push on course after a frantic 2-2 draw at West Ham.

City came from two down to draw 2-2 with West Ham and edge closer to clinching the Premier League title, but they now face a must-win game on the final day of the season against an Aston Villa side managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

Two goals from Jarrod Bowen in the first half at the London Stadium threatened to throw Liverpool a lifeline as the Hammers paid tribute to long-time servant Mark Noble ahead of his retirement.

But Jack Grealish pulled one back shortly after half-time and Vladimir Coufal headed into his own net in the 69th minute to draw City level.

City had a golden chance to win it when they were awarded a late penalty but Lukasz Fabianski saved Riyad Mahrez’s effort.

"It was a great comeback and it is an incredible credit to the team to do it against this team and with the way they defend," said Guardiola.

"They are so good in the transition and I think we played a good game. We spoke at half-time about not giving up and if we scored one goal we’d be in the game. There is one more week, one more game, with our people - I assure it will be sold out and we’ll do the best performance possible to win the game and win the title.

"It would have been more perfect to win today but West Ham are fighting - it is complicated and so difficult to play against them. It is in our hands.

"I don’t have the feeling that we played badly in the first half - we maybe but didn’t create many chances but enough. They defended so deep but we created a really good performance.

"I don’t have the feeling about poor penalties - Riyad has been exceptional this season. You mean last season? I don’t know about 50 years ago. Next game Riyad is going to score.

"It will not be easy - there will be a lot of emotions. We’ll have to train hard and recover and we’ll do everything in that game to try and win the title."

City midfielder Jack Grealish admitted the tension will mount ahead of the title decider against the Villa side he left last summer.

"It’s not about me on the final day or who we’re playing about," he said "It’s about the club and trying to get all three points to win the title. I’ve never had that before and I’m looking to it,"

"It was a day of mixed emotions (at West Ham). I thought we dominated at the start - we knew they’d sit in and try to counter-attack and that’s what they did for both of the goals. We would have taken a draw all day long at half-time. It’s our hands and we’ll recover now and have a big week of training.

"I am flat because of how the game ended. We had the penalty, but at half-time we would have taken it. At full-time we look back and think ‘could we have gone on and won the game?’

"Pep was positive at half-time and said we were playing well. We could have helped the goals but we dominated the game and the ball, but it is mixed emotions walking away.

"It was about time I scored! I’ve wanted to score goals and the manager kept saying to me at half-time to hit the target and I did that. I’ve scored quite a few goals at this ground now I think so hopefully I can come play here a bit more often!


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