Title won't be sewn up early as Guardiola tempers hopes

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling slotting past West Brom 'keeper Ben Foster at The Hawthorns for their third goal on Saturday. The table-toppers have been in imperious form since the start of the season, garnering 28 points out of a possible 30
Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling slotting past West Brom 'keeper Ben Foster at The Hawthorns for their third goal on Saturday. The table-toppers have been in imperious form since the start of the season, garnering 28 points out of a possible 30 league points.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Pep Guardiola believes it is totally unrealistic to believe Jurgen Klopp's claim that Manchester City will have the English Premier League title won in January after their 3-2 victory at West Brom.

City extended their club record run to 13 consecutive wins in all competitions (eight in a row in the Premier League) on Saturday.

But City's Spanish manager, whose side maintained their five-point lead at the top of the league on 28, is convinced that his team have learnt from last season.

Liverpool manager Klopp has suggested City can have the title wrapped up in January as no team has failed to win the title with 28 points from their first 10 games.

But Guardiola shot that talk down.

"Have you ever known a team (to) win the title in January? Me neither. No. Totally unrealistic? Definitely," he said. "You cannot win all of the time for five or six months - that is unrealistic, that is not football at the highest level."

City finished third, 15 points adrift of champions Chelsea last season, but Guardiola has seen improvements since that could make the difference.

"It is important when you don't play at the highest level, you are still able to win," he said. "That is the big difference this season, because last season, when we were not playing well, there was no chance to win. Until now that hasn't happened."

Sergio Aguero was kept on the bench and so denied the chance to become City's outright all-time top scorer. Guardiola believes the competition for places is keeping his players at the top of their game.

"You see the bench and you see how many good players there are with Danilo, Sergio, Raheem (Sterling) Yaya (Toure) and (Eliaquim) Mangala," he said.

"They compete with each other - (Gabriel) Jesus has to play well because he knows Sergio is there."

His West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis disagreed that City are certainties for the title.

"They are certainly one of the main contenders but it's a long season," he said. "There are lots of obstacles they have to overcome - they've got to be fortunate with injuries and get the bounce of the ball, so it is not in the bag yet.

"We gave them a game. There will be a lot of teams who will do the same. The team across the road (United) will be thinking that. Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham - there are six outstanding teams."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Title won't be sewn up early as Guardiola tempers hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe