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Pep Guardiola backs title-chasing Man City to have ‘incredible focus’ at Everton

Pep Guardiola has no fears about complacency heading into Manchester City’s crucial clash at Everton.

The Premier League leaders head to Goodison Park on Sunday for a match of significance at both ends of the table.

City need points to hold off the challenge of title rivals Arsenal while the relegation-threatened Toffees are anxious to pull away from trouble.

Kevin De Bruyne and Antonio Rudiger
City drew 1-1 with Real Madrid in midweek (Nick Potts/PA)

Yet for City the game is complicated by its placement between both legs of their finely-poised Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

Guardiola’s side fought out a 1-1 draw in a draining encounter at the Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday and it would be easy for players to look beyond Everton to Wednesday’s return against the Spanish giants.

But City manager Guardiola said: “The players are humble enough and respect the opponents. They know exactly how difficult it is at Everton. They know what they are playing for.

“I don’t know what is going to happen but I am pretty convinced they will have incredible focus at Goodison Park.

“The Premier League is such an important title. I know the Champions League is so special but this is many months, many tough games. You have to train incredibly good and we know what a Sean Dyche team means.”

By playing on Sunday, City will only have two clear days prior to the Champions League game while Real, who were in action on Saturday, have three.

Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche’s Everton are battling for survival (Peter Byrne/PA)

Guardiola has admitted he would have preferred to play on Saturday but insists it is not a problem.

He said: “It’s not complaining at all, not even about the schedule. It is a privilege.

“I think the excitement to try to do it again, to try to win the titles at the end, gives you an incredible energy when you are a little tired.

“The tension and pressure are there. I feel it, we feel it. It’s normal, but we have three days. It is enough time to prepare for Real Madrid. We are used to it.

“It is not the first time we’ve had incredible games. We play the second leg at home and Everton is only one hour away by bus.

“It is not as demanding as playing Champions League away then in the south of England three days later. Come on, we are privileged. The club takes care of us perfectly and we have to be ready to do it.”