LONDON • Pep Guardiola will become the first manager in 10 years to retain the Premier League title if City win their final two games, but an old nemesis, Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, stands in his way today.
He remains the only player to have scored a hat-trick against a Guardiola-managed side in a 4-2 humiliation of City at the King Power Stadium in December 2016.
Since the 2011-12 campaign, only City striker Sergio Aguero has scored more goals against “Big Six” sides (44) than Vardy (34), who is in red-hot form with 11 strikes in 11 games. He has 18 league goals and is fifth in a chart topped by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (22).
With Vardy leading the line, even though the game will be played at City’s Etihad stomping ground, Guardiola has every reason to be wary of “an incredible striker with his movement, finishing, fighting”.
He highlighted the former England striker’s raw pace as a danger, saying: “His career speaks for itself, not just the last few games, but (lately) he’s scored every single game. He’s done incredible in this league.”
He has also been impressed by his opposite number Brendan Rodgers’ influence since replacing Claude Puel in February.
He said: “Before, they were a counter-attack team but, now with Rodgers, they have another way to play and they can use that and control all parts of the game.
“In two months, his team are already playing the way he wants to play. Of course with incredible quality, with so fast players, honestly I’ve been really impressed.
“The players know it’s an incredible task for us, it’s already a final for us. Hopefully, the people can help us and we can do what we have to do and win the game.”
He also warned his players that the Foxes would be on the prowl for a scalp, insisting he “cannot imagine the Leicester players will come here for their holidays”.
The Spaniard added: “They have a chance to finish seventh, too. They will try to make a good game.
“Brendan and Rafa (Benitez) were in Liverpool, but they want to win. I cannot imagine being at former clubs and not wanting to win.
“They want to win so I don’t have doubts about that. All players and managers when they are there want to do a good performance.”
THE TIMES, LONDON
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