MANCHESTER, England (REUTERS) - Manchester City's 4-1 hammering of Tottenham highlighted just how much the London club need to improve if they are to play for the title, manager Mauricio Pochettino said after Saturday's (Dec 16) loss.
Relentless City picked up their 16th straight win and moved 14 points clear of second-placed Manchester United after brushing aside a team who this season have beaten Real Madrid in the Champions League and who were tipped by many to be Premier League contenders.
"Of course you cannot say anything positive, because that is the mentality of football," Pochettino told reporters.
"But for me, you can take some positives from the unbelievable experience for the team to realise that to play for the Premier League we need to improve, we need to learn, to work harder than before and of course we play again today a team that has a lot of quality," he said.
The Argentine noted some key moments that influenced the outcome, particularly the soft opener they gave City in the 14th minute when Ilkay Gundogan was left unmarked to head in a corner.
"I think first of all, the better team won. When you watch the game and you assess the game, the way we conceded the first goal was a massive gift for Manchester City. It changed completely all that you compare and wanted to develop on the pitch.
"We cannot concede in the way that we conceded, a lack of concentration and focus, and this situation changed the game," he said.
Spurs enjoyed a good spell of pressure after half-time and from the outset they attempted to attack City but Pochettino said that City were just too good.
"Throughout the game we respected our ideas but they were better. We tried but in the end there is not too much to assess, not too much to say, we just have to try to lift the players and be ready to compete again next week.
"They are in a very good form and momentum. They are showing why they are the best in the Premier League," he said.
Keeper Hugo Lloris, whose saves ensured that the result was not even more emphatic, went further in his praise of City.
"Tactically and technically they are a great team - probably the best team in Europe," he said.
"But we stuck with our principles, played our football with our philosophy and probably had a lack of aggression offensively because we tried to create from the back. We took a lot of risks and it's frustrating but at the same time it will help us to keep working and improve."