Pep Guardiola warned his Manchester City squad that dropping any more points could prove to be fatal to their Premier League title hopes.
The Citizens’ hopes of becoming the first team since Manchester United in 2009 to retain the Premier League title received a boost on Wednesday by defeating Cardiff City 2-0 to retake top spot from Liverpool.
Kevin De Bruyne set City on their way by scoring a cracking opener at the Etihad Stadium before Leroy Sane finished Cardiff off by smashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The result enabled Guardiola’s side to go one-point above Liverpool in the standings ahead of the final six fixtures.
But the City manager is adamant that his players cannot afford even the tiniest slip-up at this stage or else Liverpool will likely bounce on them.
“We have the feeling that if we drop points we will not be champions,” said Guardiola, according to SportsMax.
“So, I don’t know how you’re going to write, but mid-week against Cardiff, everybody said it was going to be easy.
“The way we started, commitment in all details, the corners, the throw-ins, in the focus of what we have to do, and what surprised me the most was the few goals that we scored today with the chances that we had, especially in the second half.
“So, we should’ve scored more goals, that’s the regret that we had.”
City received a very unwelcome blow on Wednesday night, however, when Oleksandr Zinchenko picked up a leg injury at Cardiff and had to be replaced by Kyle Walker.
In the absence of Benjamin Mendy, Zinchenko has performed well in the left-back role and even outlined his plans to become Guardiola’s first-choice in the position.
However, the 22-year-old is now doubtful for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash against Brighton.
“It doesn’t look good for the next days,” said Guardiola. “[He] gave us a lot and he is an important player for us. He knows the mechanisms, he knows the way we want to play.
“You accept it [the injury] and we are going to find a solution. I don’t know right now which one because Danilo fought a lot to play in that position.
“[But] it’s not his natural position. We’ll see the decision we take for the FA Cup.”
Asked on whether Mendy could return to replace Zinchenko, Guardiola replied: “We’ll see how he feels, how he trains. We don’t have many options.”