City focus on winning games in their pursuit of Liverpool

Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy driving past Leicester City's Ayoze Perez during City's 3-1 Premier League win on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy driving past Leicester City's Ayoze Perez during City's 3-1 Premier League win on Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Defender Benjamin Mendy has insisted that Manchester City are not prepared to surrender their Premier League title to Liverpool despite the considerable deficit.

Before yesterday's top-of-the-table clash between the Reds and Leicester, the champions were 11 points behind the leaders (49) and trailed the Foxes (39) by a point.

Liverpool also have a game in hand on both sides after their victory over Brazil's Flamengo in the Club World Cup final in Qatar last Saturday.

But Mendy believes that the campaign is not over yet.

Asked if Liverpool can still be caught, the Frenchman said: "Of course. If not we would stop playing now and give the cup to Liverpool. We need to try to fight until the end and we will see what happens."

City have recovered well from their damaging 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United earlier this month, with the display in the 3-1 win over Leicester last Saturday described as one of their best this term.

They face a gruelling Christmas schedule, with a trip to Wolves today followed by Sheffield United's visit on Sunday.

City boss Pep Guardiola recently said his men would need to spend "two days in the fridge" to cope with the physical demands over the festive period.

"It is important to keep going," added Mendy of their schedule.

"In the Premier League, we need to try to take three points in all the games.

"Last year we lost a lot of points at this time. This year we are more focused and I think it is a very crucial moment for the league."

His manager, though, was understandably frustrated, having written to the league to "thank" them for the demanding schedule, which his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp also described as a "crime".

"I wrote to say thank you and we're going to the fridge after Wolves to get ready for Sheffield United," Guardiola told reporters ahead of today's match.

He said it was "unrealistic" for his team to retain their title from their current position, but added that they would not stop chasing.

"We have to try to win our games, secure Champions League for next season and then you never know," the 48-year-old Spaniard said.

City, who are expected to be without the injured trio of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and John Stones, face a Wolves side chasing a top-four spot.

Guardiola praised his opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo, who has overseen only one loss in their last 13 league matches.

"Wolves are always one of the toughest opponents," he said of the 45-year-old Portuguese. "What Nuno is doing is incredible.

"It is one of the toughest games, and, at home, they are incredibly organised with pace up front."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2019, with the headline 'City focus on winning games in their pursuit of Liverpool'. Subscribe