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Man City players can prove Pep Guardiola comments wrong vs Liverpool FC

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There was a noticeable improvement in Manchester City's performance from the Premier League defeat at Chelsea to the FA Cup win at Newcastle in the past week.

Against Chelsea, City gave their opponents two goals and were guilty of collectively switching off for periods. At Newcastle, City's pressure was relentless as they didn't give the hosts a second on the ball, and should have scored more than their two goals.

After the game, Pep Guardiola offered an honest assessment of why City were more motivated at St James' Park.

"After the defeat against Chelsea, now in the Premier League we are struggling to focus," the manager said.

"We are close to getting Champions League [qualification], it's not done but we are close, we need two victories. But of course there is a gap and it's a little bit different."

City's players are only human, so it's understandable that the imminent coronation of Liverpool would affect their performances. Now that matter is sealed, though, City have plenty to motivate them for the visit of Jurgen Klopp's men.

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First, as Guardiola alluded to, City still need the points to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Then, City will want to show Liverpool they are still capable of beating them. After a season where Liverpool have looked invincible, it would be a massive confidence boost going into next season's title battle to dent their record this year.

Thursday's game also represents City's final game against a top half side in the Premier League this season. In fact, their remaining six games after facing Liverpool come against teams in the current bottom eight. Arsenal await in the FA Cup towards the end of that run, but Liverpool represent City's toughest test before they face Real Madrid in the Champions League in August.

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Liverpool are, of course, reigning European champions, so a good performance against them will give City a boost going into that last-16 second leg and hopefully beyond.

Back in the Premier League picture, City also have records to protect. Victory against Liverpool won't end the leaders' hopes of smashing City's record of 100 points, but it will slow them down and make their margin for error smaller.

City will rightly give Liverpool a Guard of Honour for their achievements this season, but that should only serve to motivate Guardiola's men even more for the following 90 minutes.

When Guardiola is interviewed after the game on Thursday, there should be no questions over City's focus like there were at Chelsea.




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