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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expects an inevitable drop off in intensity from his players now the Premier League has been retained but warned them that major challenges still lie in wait.
A fifth title in six years was attained following Arsenal’s defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, which essentially gave City three ‘free’ games until the end of the domestic campaign.
They have already dispensed with Chelsea and Brighton follow on Wednesday before Brentford on the final day, but the bigger picture is the FA Cup final against Manchester United and the Champions League final against Inter Milan.
“They have the party after the (Chelsea) game. I don’t know how they feel,” said Guardiola.
“They have to be ready to run a lot. The best way to prepare for the final is be ready. The players set the standards, they have to maintain it.
“It’s normal the energy would drop. Arsenal play for just the Premier League, we have FA Cup, Champions League, the energy we spend is massive.
“It’s normal you drop, you have to avoid it or don’t drop much otherwise the two teams (Brighton and Brentford) can hurt us.
- Brighton – Premier League, May 24
- Brentford – Premier League, May 28
- Manchester United – FA Cup final, June 3
- Inter Milan – Champions League final, June 10
“Play our game, adapt the way we play, arrive to United and Inter in the best condition possible.”
Guardiola has plenty of options at his disposal in terms of being able to keep his players fresh, so there should be no excuse for a huge drop off in performance.
Against Chelsea he made nine changes, allowing him to be able to bring on the likes of 52-goal striker Erling Haaland, playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and John Stones while not even using Jack Grealish or the in-form Ilkay Gundogan.
That meant a first Premier League start for Kalvin Phillips, who has had a difficult debut season since arriving from Leeds for £42million.
Guardiola insists all his squad still have a part to play.
“Everyone can have influence, sometimes five minutes is as important as the rest,” he added.
“Everyone has been important, everyone has been involved in the fact we are where we are.”
The City boss, however, remains wary of Brighton, who are riding the crest of a wave having qualified for Europe for the first time in their history.
Pay attention to what I’m going to say. I’m pretty convinced I’m right in what I’m saying: I think Roberto is one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years.
Guardiola is a huge fan of the work done by Roberto De Zerbi since taking over from Graham Potter.
“Congratulations for Brighton for this incredible achievement for the Europa League,” he said.
“Pay attention to what I’m going to say. I’m pretty convinced I’m right in what I’m saying: I think Roberto is one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years.
“There is no team playing the way they play, it’s unique. I have the feeling when he arrived the impact he would have in the Premier League would be great – I didn’t expect them to do it in this short space of time.
“If you don’t play at a high level he can do whatever he wants against you. They deserve completely the compliments and the success they have, one of the teams I try to learn a lot from.
“Brighton is the master of passing the ball to the man free, but also when to pass to the free man.
“They move at the right time, this is the best at the world, for the right tempo and the free man.”
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