Pep Guardiola claimed that “everyone in the country” supports Liverpool and would prefer to see them win the Premier League title after watching his Manchester City side move three points clear at the top of the table.
An emphatic 5-0 win over Newcastle United saw the champions bounce back from their painful Champions League semi-final exit to Real Madrid in midweek and capitalise on their rivals at Anfield dropping points to Tottenham Hotspur.
The scale of the victory also saw City move four ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, which could yet prove to be the deciding factor if Guardiola’s side lose one of their remaining three games and allow Liverpool to draw level.
While Jurgen Klopp’s side face Aston Villa away on Tuesday night, City travel to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers the following evening, and Guardiola believes there is a widespread desire to see them slip up down the stretch.
In a post-match interview with beIN Sports, the City manager said: “Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone, of course because Liverpool has an incredible history behind in European competition – not in Premier Leagues, because they’ve won one in 30 years – but it’s not a problem at all.
“The situation is what it is. We need to do nine points or maybe six right now, it depends what happens in the next two games in terms of goal difference, but now Wednesday is the real, real final for us.
“We are going to try to win there. Our destiny is in our hands and this is important. We have to look at ourselves. With one point or three points, nothing’s changed. We have to do it.”
Guardiola revealed that City will be without three of their most senior defenders for the rest of the season after losing Ruben Dias to a hamstring injury midway through Sunday’s 5-0 victory.
John Stones and Kyle Walker will also sit out of the final three games of the season having being risked in the first and second semi-final legs against Madrid respectively, while Nathan Aké may need to be risked despite carrying an ankle issue.
“Ruben, Kyle and John are out until the end of the season. Next pre-season maybe they will be ready,” he said. “Nathan Ake – he had a problem in the ankle for a long time. It happened in one game against Leeds. He said he feels niggles, doesn’t feel comfortable.
“Maybe Nathan not for Wolves but maybe for the last two he can be [available]. Right now we have three – Joao [Cancelo], Oleks [Zinchenko] and Ayme [Laporte] plus Fernandinho.”