The first leg of a possible Manchester City treble could be secured even before Pep Guardiola’s team take to the pitch against Chelsea on Sunday.
If Arsenal lose at Nottingham Forest, a fifth Premiership title in six seasons will be assured on Saturday.
Not that Guardiola wanted to be crowned under those circumstances.
“If we can win on Sunday and celebrate with our people in the stadium, that would be the best celebration,” he said on Friday.
In his position he has the luxury of choosing how he wants the title party.
City’s dominance of the league was overshadowed by the threat of an Arsenal side that had topped the table for most of the campaign and held an eight-point lead over the defending champions by early April.
But a combination of a slump for the Gunners and 11 consecutive wins for City has guaranteed that the title will remain at the Etihad Stadium for a third year in a row.
Guardiola said, “In the premiership, it is a matter of never straying too far from the top, never giving up, never, never waiting any longer.”
He openly questioned whether his players have lost their appetite this season after the team won four league titles in his seven years in charge. He referred to his players as “little flowers” and warned that Arsenal would “destroy” them if they did not improve.
No one questions City now, a team three games away from a Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup treble.
City’s level and state of mind became clear after beating Real Madrid 4-0 in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.
Only the most unlikely scenario would see them lose the premiership title, but Guardiola said he would leave no stone unturned against a confident Chelsea team.
“The last (match) is the toughest because there are so many emotions involved,” he added. “We cannot be distracted at this point. We will not forgive ourselves if we are distracted by something.”
After leading City for so long, Arsenal’s only hope is to prolong their title run with a win over a relegation-threatened team.
Mikel Arteta’s side have exceeded expectations by fighting for the title, which they have all but eluded, winning just two of their last seven league games.
However, Arteta did not give up.
“We’re still there,” he said. “With two games to go, we can still be crowned champions against the best team in Premiership history.”