By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester City’s ground-breaking season encountered a minor road block before their Premier League coronation on Sunday but their eyes are now firmly back on completing a record-shredding finale to the campaign.
Following a surprise 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town on Sunday, maximum points from their final two games, at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday and away at Southampton, would ensure the champions finish on exactly 100 points.
“We cannot deny it would be nice to reach 100 (points),” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
“We spoke about that. These targets help us to be focused.”
No side in England’s top flight have achieved this. Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, suggested back in 2016 that a 100-point season was an impossible feat.
Yet perfectionist Guardiola will be irritated if their majestic campaign is not rewarded with a three-figure flourish, even though he concedes it will be mighty difficult, especially with Southampton fighting for their Premier League lives on Sunday.
Against Brighton, who can relax after winning their fight for survival, the Etihad faithful will be expecting normal service to be resumed, with City needing a win to move to 97 points, two more than Chelsea’s landmark of 95 in 2004-05.
Two more goals would also see City’s total for the season surpass Chelsea’s record of 2009-10, when Didier Drogba spearheaded a tally of 103.
The Wednesday action also sees the resumption of the battle between City’s distant pursuers to guarantee Champions League football next season.
Tottenham Hotspur can move third on 74 points, leapfrogging Liverpool by two points if they beat Newcastle United at Wembley.
“It is in our hands to finish third,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
The Argentine was disappointed with Spurs’ last-gasp 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday — the first time they have failed to score in 24 league matches — which has left the door ajar for Chelsea in the top-four race.
Chelsea, fifth on 69 points, would jump into fourth by beating struggling Huddersfield on Wednesday and Spurs lose to Rafa Benitez’s side.
Should Huddersfield lose, their Premier League fate would go down to the wire when they host Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final game in charge of the Gunners.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, Editing by Ed Osmond)
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