Man City achieve top two Pep Guardiola targets before World Cup

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Pep Guardiola said his Manchester City players have achieved his main two priorities for the first part of the season before the World Cup.

City have two games left before the majority of their squad depart for Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, with Chelsea up next in the Carabao Cup and Brentford awaiting in the final pre-tournament Premier League fixture.

With top spot in their Champions League group wrapped up with a game to spare, and Saturday’s 95th-minute win over Fulham almost guaranteeing a place in the top two in the Premier League after the first 14 fixtures, Guardiola said his side have achieved the objectives he set at the start of the campaign.

Praising his squad for giving him the energy to continue competing, Guardiola said: “I give enthusiasm, but they give it to me. The way I play, 91, 92 minutes, what I was seeing during 65 minutes [vs Fulham], we are not a team that makes everything up and down quick. We have done it and after scoring there and seeing the faces of our people, they give me now energy for the future.

“They give it to me for Chelsea, Brentford. We cannot disappoint them, we have to be there for them. Before the game they see my enthusiasm, I said to them this weekend is so important. The contenders play each other, we are there. The end of before the World Cup to be close there. The target to qualify for the Champions League and being close to the top of the league. That for sure is going to happen and they felt it.

“It was my job, after they give it to me too. All the time I have to be push, push, push. No, come on. Not enough energy anyone has that. Today they give me what they are. In six or seven years, when the people support the team unconditionally it’s because they have done it many times. Many years in this league, the toughest league in the world, still there, still there.

“After winning four Premier League titles in five years, still there doing what they have done. That is the biggest title we can get as a team, as a club, everything.”

Guardiola also said the entire squad’s approach to the Fulham fixture made him confident they would be able to get the win required to keep the pressure on Arsenal who were top of the table going into the weekend.

He said: “[On Friday] they make incredible training and I saw how focussed they were. I go to sleep so confident and I saw it afterwards. We saw it, there are things you cannot see. How happy they are in the locker room and the training was perfect.

“Even the guys who didn’t play they train perfectly. Riyad, Erling and all the guys. We are there, we can compete. 11 against 11 was really good before the penalty they didn’t pass halfway so we were there all the time. That makes me feel happy because we can do it all together.”

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