Mind games have been traded for respect during the title race but Pep Guardiola aimed a timely dig at Liverpool ahead of the final weekend.
Pep Guardiola has claimed the Premier League title race is "easy" for Liverpool as they are not playing under the same pressure as his Manchester City side. City moved back to the top of the Premier League on Monday thanks to a 1-0 home defeat of Leicester City that was secured by Vincent Kompany's long-range rocket.
Eight consecutive wins for Liverpool
Guardiola takes his side to Brighton and Hove Albion for the final fixture of the campaign knowing a 14th consecutive league win would seal a successful title defence. Liverpool have pushed City all the way, though, with Jürgen Klopp's side winning their past eight Premier League matches, as well as reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
Guardiola's psychological games
Guardiola and Klopp have shown high levels of respect for each other during a gripping title race but the City boss appeared to crank up the mind games going into the decisive weekend.
"The problem is the way we played," Guardiola told reporters when asked if recent victories have been mentally draining for his team. "We won 1-0 in Burnley but we didn't concede one corner, one shot on target. We controlled the games. We are a much better team than the opponents. What we have to do when you play a game is try to be better than the opponents, we were better than the opponents the last two or three months. Win or lose, we will see. Sometimes you need a goal like Vinnie today. Sometimes in [off] the post. Sometimes the penalties not given again. Two times in a row no penalty given, so 2-0 for the opponents. It was outstanding the way we played in the second half, especially the character and the personality. Knowing how difficult it is to handle the emotions to play. Knowing if you don't win you cannot be champions. At the end Liverpool play right now without pressure because they know it is not in their hands. So it is easy to play in these kind of games. We have the pressure because we can't lose, because it is in our own hands. We deserve to be in that position. One more game and we will try it."
2 - Man City have beaten every team they’ve faced in the league for the second consecutive season; the only other English top-flight team to achieve this were Preston between 1888-89 and 1889-90. Relentless. #MCILEI pic.twitter.com/psyptubDJt— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 6, 2019
Kompany unleashes one
Kompany was an unlikely hero for City, the club captain scoring his first Premier League goal of the season to break the deadlock at a nervous Etihad Stadium.
"I said, 'No shoot, Vinnie, no shoot'," Guardiola said of the skipper, whose City contract expires at the end of the campaign. "He was smart, don't follow my thoughts. Incredible goal. The desire to win, everybody. And we did it. There are important players in that club, more than one century of history at this club and there are not a lot in the trophy cabinet – titles – but there are players who help us to be who were are right now. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany is one of them. Vincent, 10 years, we spoke many times, unfortunately sometimes he's injured. When he is fit, he is an incredible central defender. Today, for the goal, it's awesome, it's massive. But he's a real defender, he's a personality. He's beloved. He is a leader many times. I am happy for him, for the club, for everybody."