Manchester City’s magic number is now three — any combination of three points won, or points dropped by Manchester United, needed to win the 2017-18 Premier League title.
[ MORE: Man City on the brink of PL title ]
It’s been a foregone conclusion since mid-December, when their lead first reached double digits, and Saturday’s 3-1 victory over fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur has Pep Guardiola‘s side on Title Watch from here on out, with five games to play.
Kevin De Bruyne has arguably been Man City’s standout player this season, and though he’ll likely lose out to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for Player of the Year honors, the Belgian superstar was over the moon when speaking during his post-game television interviews (above video) at the first mention of lifting the PL trophy next weekend. He was extremely defiant in refusing to let three games define what has been a brilliant, and perhaps still record-setting, season:
“We’re almost there. We knew we had to win two out of six games, so that’s not bad odds for us. Now it’s only out of five, and (Man) United don’t need to slip up, so we just need to do our thing and hopefully we can finish it next week.”
“It’s been a little more quiet, but not less confident. The Liverpool game away was a little bit [50-50], but I think the way we played against United and Liverpool at home showed that we performed well. I think in those games we deserve to win, but we didn’t. That’s football, you have to pick yourself up and be confident. The season’s been unbelievable, and these three games aren’t going to define our season.
“In the beginning, it’s the manager [who picked us up], obviously. But you need a day or two days to pick yourself up. We had a free day, you have your family in another environment, and then yesterday we had a little training and everybody was ready to try to perform today.
“I think [starting games quickly] shows the motivation of the team. We tried to do that against United and Liverpool at home, and it worked very well. It was a little bit less in both second halves, but we tried to do it today. We knew the second half is going to be tougher, it’s been a tough schedule for us, but the second half was about mental toughness and trying to dig in until the end.
Guardiola, who says he’ll spend his Sunday afternoon on the golf course while United take on West Bromwich Albion in a game of massive title consequences (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), was simply proud of his players’ response after bowing out of the Champions League and blowing a 2-0 lead against the Red Devils last weekend:
“After what happened this week, coming here to play against Tottenham, one of the best teams with (one of) the best managers by far, and play the way we played the first half, after 15 minutes, I said, ‘We will be champions.’ Not today, that’s for tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter after what happened; how the players reacted, these guys are fantastic.
“We’ve [dominated games early on] many, many times. Of course we didn’t expect it today, because the opponent is so, so good, but what we did today, we’ve done it many, many, many times. That’s why we are in the position that we are.”