Pep Guardiola has told his Manchester City players they must go flat out for victory in their final three Premier League games.
City will retain the title if they beat Burnley, Leicester and Brighton and, with Liverpool threatening to take the race to the wire, Guardiola insists they must do just that.
The City boss says there can be no safety-first approach or fear of defeat. He wants his team to get on the front foot and get points won, whatever the circumstances, adding to the record 157 goals in all competitions they have already scored this season.
Guardiola said: “The difference between this season and last season is one reason – Liverpool.
“We did the same but Liverpool are much, much better. The other clubs are in the same level but Liverpool have improved a lot.
“They have bought incredible players and been incredibly consistent, like us this season and last season.
“Now it’s who handles the pressure more, who is more stable, and thinking every single second that it doesn’t matter if you lose. You have to go and play three games to win every single game.
“It doesn’t matter what happens, the mentality is you have to score goals. Increase 157, more and more. That is all you have to do.
“We lose the game? Bad luck and next season we will be back, hopefully stronger.”
Liverpool returned to the top of the table with victory over relegated Huddersfield on Friday night yet, having played a game more, their fate is out of their hands.
All they can do is keep winning to keep the pressure on, but Guardiola is not thinking about what the Reds are doing or what their manager Jurgen Klopp might say. He is simply working on the assumption Liverpool will take maximum points.
“They are going to win their games and we have to win all three games to be champion,” said Guardiola, who takes his team to Turf Moor on Sunday. “We have had that feeling for a long time but every game it is a little more difficult with the pressure because you know it is closer.
“We don’t have to look at what they do. It’s in our hands and that is the little advantage that we have right now.
“If we win on Sunday, next Monday, and the last game in Brighton we will be champions. He can do mind games but all we have to do is focus on what we have to do and win our games.”