Guardiola: City's Premier League title hopes over

Pep Guardiola scratching his head as he seeks to turn Manchester City's fortunes around. His side have lost four of their last eight league games.
Pep Guardiola scratching his head as he seeks to turn Manchester City's fortunes around. His side have lost four of their last eight league games.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola conceded that Manchester City are out of the Premier League title race, after enduring the heaviest league defeat of his managerial career against Everton on Sunday.

City were beaten 4-0 at Goodison Park where two teenagers, Tom Davies and the new signing Ademola Lookman, scored their first Everton goals. Two Belgium internationals, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas, were also on the scoresheet.

The defeat left City 10 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea and outside the Champions League qualification places in fifth place.

Fourth-placed Arsenal, on 44 points, are two points ahead of City but one behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Asked whether City are out of the title race, Guardiola replied: "Yes. The first one is a 10-point gap and that is a lot. The second one is three points, so we have to see.

"I spoke with the players for the last three weeks to forget about the table, focus on the next game and do our best. After that, at the end of the season, we'll analyse how our level was, our performance, the coach, the players."

The Spaniard traced his side's troubles on failing to covert chances, while conceding to the opposition's first shot in four of their last seven games.

"I will be concerned and worried when they arrive six or seven times and create a lot of chances," he said. "That's then our problem to control the game.

"I know in many cases the people don't agree with me but to control the game means you have the possession to create enough chances and concede as few as possible. That has happened.

"But what happens when they arrive for the first time - it's a goal."

City have lost their way to such an extent, losing four of their last eight league games, that the worry for their fans is whether they will be among the Champions League spots by the end of the season.

This Saturday comes a critical examination as they host soaring Tottenham, who are on a run of seven straight wins in all competitions and scoring goals for fun.

Things are looking up for Everton manager Ronald Koeman too.

He is seeing huge improvements in his squad and was able to use new signing Morgan Schneiderlin, bought from Manchester United last week, as a second-half substitute.

"It was a perfect afternoon," said the Dutchman. "How we played in the second half was really outstanding, really perfect. It might have been impossible to play at a higher level in every aspect of football."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'Guardiola: City's Premier League title hopes over'. Print Edition | Subscribe