• Guardiola under fire, Chelsea on title march

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    LONDON: Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to ease their Champions League pain by securing a vital win against Liverpool, while leaders Chelsea aim to move a step closer to the Premier League title this weekend.

    Guardiola’s side were eliminated from Europe’s elite club competition in stunning fashion on Wednesday as they blew a 5-3 first leg advantage to go out on away goals following a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

    It was another major setback for City manager Guardiola, who had never before seen one of his teams knocked out before the Champions League quarterfinals.

    Pep Guardiola AFP PHOTO

    Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola was heavily criticised for his tactics and team selection in Monaco.

    With third placed City just one point ahead of fourth placed Liverpool in the battle for a top four finish, Guardiola needs a lift at Eastlands on Sunday and he is eager to see how his team respond to the situation.

    “Qualification for the Champions League will be tough until the last game of the Premier League,” Guardiola said.

    “It will be good to see how everybody reacts, myself and the players, after going out of the Champions League.

    “It’s an important game before the international team break against one of the best teams in the Premier League.”

    Having won three of their last four games, Liverpool has opened up a five-point gap on fifth placed Arsenal as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.

    Arsenal travel to West Bromwich Albion with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hoping last weekend’s FA Cup win over minnows Lincoln has lifted his players’ shattered morale.

    Rocked by the humiliation of a 10-2 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16, Wenger has endured calls for his resignation from angry fans and failing to finish in the top four might convince the Frenchman to step down.

    “When you care about results and they are not what you want it’s not a happy place,” Wenger said.

    “Our job is to do as we well can. We want to play Champions League next season. Six or seven fighting for the places.

    “Nothing is good enough anymore so you try to do as well as you can.”

    AFP

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