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Guardiola

The Guardiola wrong Man City can right to set up derby title party

8:02 AM EDT 3/30/18
Pep Guardiola Manchester City
There are not many sides that can claim to have outsmarted the Catalan coach down the years, and one more Premier League foe could fall this weekend

So dominant have Manchester City been in 2017-18 that their campaign has now become little more than a box-ticking exercise.

The Carabao Cup has already been wrapped up, providing Pep Guardiola with his first piece of silverware in English football, and there is the promise of more to come at home and abroad.

Just six points are required to secure the Premier League title, with only the rescheduling of a meeting with Brighton having prevented City from getting over that particular line before the end of March.

It could, however, be argued that the Seagulls have done Guardiola’s side a favour, as the crown can now be captured in the most special of circumstances.

If everything goes to plan, a title party will be held at the Etihad Stadium on April 7.

Who are due to be the visitors that day? None other than arch-rivals Manchester United.

Back in 2012, a Vincent Kompany header in a 1-0 derby victory over the Red Devils carried City to within touching distance of the title, but they still required the most dramatic of finishes on the final day from Sergio Aguero to get the job done.

This time around, there may be no need for waiting.

Victory over Everton on Saturday evening will leave City on the brink and have them poised to welcome their neighbours to Eastlands ready to prove just how noisy they can be.

It is, however, a meeting with the Toffees which presents the next box to be ticked – particularly for Guardiola.

There are not too many sides that can claim to have been a thorn in the Catalan’s side down the years, but the men from Merseyside have proved to be a tough nut to crack.

Of the 20 teams currently competing in the English top tier, Guardiola has tasted victory over 19 – including City.

The one anomaly on that list? Everton.

Opponent P W D L
Arsenal 14 8 3 3
Chelsea 9 3 3 3
Man Utd 8 5 2 1
Leicester 5 4 0 1
West Brom 5 5 0 0
C Palace 5 4 1 0
Burnley 5 4 1 0
Liverpool 4 1 1 2
Man City 4 2 0 2
Stoke 4 3 1 0
Bournemouth 4 4 0 0
West Ham 4 4 0 0
Watford 4 4 0 0
Swansea 4 4 0 0
Southampton 3 2 1 0
Huddersfield 3 2 1 0
Tottenham 3 1 1 1
Everton 3 0 2 1
Newcastle 2 2 0 0
Brighton 1 1 0 0

Since arriving in Manchester back in the summer of 2016, Guardiola has faced the Toffees on three occasions.

He has just two points to show for his efforts, with a 4-0 mauling at Goodison Park in January 2017 representing the heaviest league defeat of a distinguished coaching career which has seen him sweep aside all comers at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

That domestic dominance is now being replicated with City, with a 16-point lead at the top of the table making a mockery of the Premier League’s supposed standing as the most competitive elite division in Europe.

Guardiola is, however, a proud man and one who will be fully aware of his record against Everton.

Conquering England is now a formality, a matter of when not if, but the man at the helm will still want to do things with the swagger and style which has become his calling card – and that means unsticking the Toffees.

Were City to emerge victorious this weekend, then their manager would have a full set of Premier League scalps to go with those previously collected in the Bundesliga and La Liga.

Success would also see the Blues become only the third team – after Chelsea in 2005-06 and United in 2010-11 – to be able to boast wins over all of the other sides in the division across a single season.

That would be another nice box to tick.

Guardiola is also only one victory short of 50 in the Premier League – from 68 games to date - and could become the second-quickest to a half-century behind old adversary Jose Mourinho, who achieved the feat in 63 outings.

Everton are all that stands in his way.

The 47-year-old branded a battling 1-1 draw with the Toffees back in August, which was achieved with 10 men following the dismissal of Kyle Walker, to be “one of the proudest days of my life”, but a new high may be reached this weekend.

Guardiola has not experienced too many wrongs over the course of his career to date, but he is now in a position to right one of them and ensure that the derby title dream lives on for City.