Pep Guardiola promises fight to the end as Man City bid to secure top four spot

04 February 2017 11:54

Pep Guardiola expects to have to fight until the end to ensure Manchester City qualify for next season's Champions League.

City, having been tipped to challenge for the title this year, are fifth in the Premier League heading into Sunday's clash with Swansea.

Victory would take them above Arsenal and Liverpool into third but the battle for top-four positions is tight. Guardiola was appointed in the hope he could guide City towards Champions League glory and so missing out altogether would represent a blow to the club's ambitions.

"It is possible that we won't qualify," said Guardiola. "Today we are not in the Champions League (positions).

"But we are going to see at the end of the season and then you will see my impression (of it). Let us fight until the end. Let me try at least that - fight."

City have played some of their best football for some time since being jolted into action by a 4-0 defeat at Everton last month.

In the last three games they have been highly impressive in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham and beaten Crystal Palace - in the FA Cup - and West Ham convincingly. In such form they should be strong challengers for the top four.

Key to their recent success has been the potency of an attack reinvigorated by the arrival of Gabriel Jesus and the improved form of Leroy Sane.

Jesus, the £27million signing from Palmeiras, has shone in his first three games while Sane, after a slow start since his £37million arrival last summer, has scored three goals in his last four appearances.

The pair are 19 and 21 years old respectively and, combined with 22-year-old Raheem Sterling, City's attacking line is full of youthful promise.

Guardiola's next challenge will be to freshen up his defence. All four of his senior full-backs - Pablo Zabaleta (32), Bacary Sagna (33), Gael Clichy (31) and Aleksandar Kolarov (31) - are among those who could make way at the end of the season.

Guardiola said: "We realise that we have a lot of players over 30. For example, full-backs are 31, 32.

"But they are so important. We cannot change absolutely everything in one season. I can understand how important Yaya (Toure), Kolarov or Gael are, or the personality from Pablo, in the locker room.

"At the end, the heart and soul of the team are the old players, the people who know the club.

"Sooner or later of course the process is going to change. I think the situation is starting but it cannot be possible to do that for eight, nine players.

"It is impossible because every player costs £45-50million and it is not good to change seven, eight or nine players."

Source: PA