football

Pep Guardiola warns of West Ham threat and expects repeat of final-day drama against Aston Villa in 2022

Pep Guardiola is anticipating a nerve-shredding final-day fixture akin to Manchester City's title-clinching 3-2 win over Aston Villa in 2022 when they host West Ham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

City are two points ahead of Arsenal and will be champions for an historic fourth year in a row if they beat David Moyes' side, regardless of the Gunners' result at home to Everton.

City go into the game as strong favourites having won their last eight in a row in the Premier League, scoring 30 goals in the process, while the Hammers have only won one of their last seven and have little to play for in Moyes' final game as their manager.

But Guardiola is adamant they will be tough opposition, like Aston Villa on the final day in 2022, when City had to come from two goals down to clinch a dramatic 3-2 win and pip Liverpool to the title.

"I have the feeling it will be Aston Villa again," said Guardiola at his press conference on Friday. "We would like to be 3-0 up after 10 minutes but it's not going to happen.

"I've seen enough West Ham games in the last three or four days, from a few months ago, a few weeks ago, and their last game.

"They have a few things we need to control, otherwise it will be difficult. But we have two days to prepare the last game and we are ready."

Before the Aston Villa game, there was of course the even more dramatic title-clinching win over QPR at the Etihad Stadium in 2012. Guardiola is keen for lessons to be heeded.

"With what happened against Aston Villa, what happened against QPR, with the Sergio Aguero moment, I'm ready for it to be a tough, tough game," he added.

"I want to put in the minds of my players, 'Look at Tottenham [on Tuesday], how they fought for every ball. Their aggression was incredible.' I didn't have any doubts about that.

"The 11 players of West Ham will be ready to beat us. Like Aston Villa, two seasons ago, they didn't play for anything, but I know what happened.

"The same is going to happen, so ourselves and our people have to be ready from the first minute, to support us, to be with us and do it together."

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he is "very optimistic" about a positive outcome on Sunday, displaying his confidence in West Ham to get a result at City.

Arteta made reference to the fact that a replica of the Premier League trophy will be inside the Emirates Stadium - to be brought out if the Gunners pip City to the title - and believes that can act as a sign that Arsenal can get the job done.

"It's one of the biggest weeks for many of us," Arteta said. "Now is the most important moment. I'm really excited, can't wait for Sunday to be in front of us. I'm very optimistic about a positive outcome.

"The hope is there. Now we have to do our job. Everton are in a really good moment, we have to prove again that we can be better than the opponent and then wish for the best, for West Ham to have a good game, help us and fulfill our dreams."

Asked if his optimism is shared amongst the players, Arteta replied: "Around the building.

"We are in the last day of the season playing for the Premier League trophy, which has not been at the Emirates which was built 20 years ago.

"The trophy is going to be there, it's possible. We have to do our job then see what happens."

Guardiola paid tribute to departing Hammers boss Moyes, who will be replaced by Julen Lopetegui at the end of the season, and backed him to return to management.

"This type of personality in English football, I think he is not going to retire," he said. "He will be back, that is my feeling. With his age and experience, he cannot be at home, he will be back.

"My first game in the Premier League was against Sunderland and David Moyes was there. Now, an important game, he will be there again.

"It's always an honour to see him. He is always so kind. He is a lovely person and his experience speaks for itself. But he will do what he can to beat us."

Asked about his message to his players ahead of Sunday's game, Guardiola urged focus and warned that he sees "no chance" of Arsenal dropping points against Everton

"Don't talk about the consequences, just what you have to do to win, to control it, the transitions, the coolness, the set-pieces, the long balls - how you defend every single ball.

"There's a lot of stuff that West Ham demand that you have to do, and you have to do it perfect. These are the only things on my mind.

"What I said to the players, the last two or three games, is that Aston Villa winning at Emirates and Crystal Palace winning at Liverpool is not going to happen again.

"At that moment, the destiny is in our hands. But if you are waiting for them to drop points again, you are wrong.

"If you are thinking Arsenal is going to lose at Old Trafford, forget about it. If you are thinking Everton are going do something [on Sunday], forget about it.

"This is not going to happen. We did what we had to do in Crystal Palace, against Wolves, Fulham, Spurs, and now we have the last one. So, they know it's win or win, otherwise Arsenal will be champion."

Arteta also believes West Ham are capable of producing a shock at the Etihad Stadium - after all, the Hammers beat Arsenal 2-0 on their own patch back in December.

And even though Moyes' side have nothing to play for in their final game, Arteta believes the Hammers will be "at it" against City.

"It's difficult to beat someone in the Premier League, when there's more at stake, it's more difficult," said the Arsenal boss.

"We all know City went a step closer [at Spurs] but they are going to play a tough opponent. We have suffered against them in the last few seasons. I'm sure West Ham will be at it."

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