Manchester City have received a major boost to their efforts to secure the Premier League title this season with two players returning ahead of schedule. Pep Guardiola knows that a win over Aston Villa will see his side clinch the trophy.
City will go into Sunday’s match against Aston Villa with full confidence they will be lifting the Premier League trophy by the end of the afternoon. And Guardiola will be delighted to be able to welcome back two defenders in Kyle Walker and John Stones for the match.
It has been a rollercoaster of a season for the Etihad outfit, who have seen their European ambitions go up in smoke during one of the most dramatic matches in Champions League history at the Bernabeu. With seconds left on the clock and two goals ahead, City were beaten by Real Madrid on an unbelievable night when Rodrygo scored twice in extra-time.
After Liverpool had already beaten them in the FA Cup semi-finals, it meant that the only prize up for grabs remained the Premier League. City have largely been top throughout the season – even leading by 15 points at one stage.
But Jurgen Klopp has roared his side back into contention with one game left with just a point to separate them. It means that anything less than a victory over Villa could see the Reds beat them to the title.
Guardiola cannot afford any slip-ups while there had been worries over his backline but he has received a mighty boost ahead of the clash. Walker and Stones have returned to training and are in contention to start against Steven Gerrard’s side – who would love to be the man to help his old team lift the Premier League trophy.
Walker has not played for City since that incredible Real Madrid tie where he came off injured, sparking Los Blancos’ comeback. Whereas Stones has not featured since the first leg against Carlo Ancelotti’s men back in Manchester.
Speaking prior to this week’s fixtures, Walker has spoken out on his situation and insisted he is not giving up getting back into the starting XI ahead of the weekend. “I wouldn’t say [my ankle’s] perfect, obviously it’s had two very bad injuries in two games but I’m hoping,” the England international said.
“I’ve still got hope until the end of the season, until that whistle goes in 90 minutes at the Etihad against Aston Villa, that’s when I’ll say my season is over and have a little bit of a rest. Well, a week hopefully before I join up with England but I’ve still got hope for tomorrow, I’ve still got hope for next week, as I say, until the season’s done I’ll [not] be done.”