Manchester City have flown out to Abu Dhabi knowing two more wins will see them crowned Premier League champions.
Monday’s comfortable 2-0 win at Stoke saw Pep Guiardiola’s side move 16 points clear at the top of the table.
It means if they can take maximum points from their next two matches then that will see them be crowned champions on the first weekend in April.
And it sets up the prospect of City taking that decisive step in the best possible way – with a win over bitter local rivals Manchester United.City’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan last month now leaves them without a game until March 31 when they make the short trip to Everton.
If Guardiola’s men can see off Sam Allardyce’s side at Goodison Park, that will leave them knowing a win over United on April 7 will seal their coronation.
It is all set up to provide the perfect title celebration – and an indication of how relaxed the players are was evident in the aftermath of Monday’s win at Stoke.
Guardiola and his squad hopped on the coach from the Bet365 Stadium to make the short trip back up the M6 as they headed straight for Manchester Airport.There the players ambled through the arrivals hall happy to mix with locals and pose for pictures as they waited to board the plane to Abu Dhabi.
Goalkeeper Ederson stopped for a selfie with a member of airport staff while Ilkay Gundogan was all smiles for a picture with another fan.
And influential midfielder Kevin De Brune gave an indication the players know the task is almost done with a tweet mocking those who say foreign players don’t like English conditions.He posted a picture of David Silva celebrating one of his two goals and wrote: “On a cold rainy night in Stoke” finishing the message with a tick for job done.
City want to take advantage of a rare weekend off before the international break by enjoying a few days of gentle warm weather training.
As forecasts project yet more wintry conditions and even snow this weekend, City will be able to wind down with some sun on their backs in the Emirates.