Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has insisted the Premier League title race is far from over and believes there is still plenty to play for ahead of his side’s trip to Everton on Wednesday night.
City beat Tottenham 3-0 on Saturday to seal a sixteenth straight victory in all competitions and pulled away from rivals Manchester United to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points with a game in hand. Jurgen Klopp, too, conceded the title after his defending champions Liverpool lost 3-1 at Leicester and now trail 13 points off the summit. City have now been installed as heavy favourites to lift the trophy come May.
However, Guardiola is adamant there is still a massive job to do and they are taking things a game at a time, starting with this week’s clash at Goodison Park.
“We never get the perfection, what we have done, the 16 games in a row or ten, 11 in the Premier League, is a consequence of thinking of the next one and preparing the best as possible,” he explained at Tuesday’s press conference.
“The reality is the games, two months ago we were not in any thoughts for any person that we could win the Premier League, now it looks like we are the only contenders. Seven points when you have to play 15 games left, 45 points left still to play, a lot of things can happen. The only thing in my head is how to beat Everton.
“The middle of February, there are a lot of points to play for and many things can happen - we will drop points for sure,” he claimed. “That is the moment I am expecting and looking for a reaction from all of us.
“Everything we have done is because we have to run a lot, play good, the quality of the players does the rest. Every game is tough. Tomorrow is no exception. The next one is the only important one.”
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, will be looking for a reaction from his players after Sunday’s disappointing defeat by Fulham.
Having beaten Tottenham in the FA Cup and clinched a 94th minute equaliser at Manchester United, positivity was high in the blue half of Merseyside ahead of a busy week against City and Liverpool in the Merseyside derby but losing to the Cottagers meant the Toffees lost ground in the race for the top four.
It was another home defeat by lowly opposition but Ancelotti believes Everton are moving in the right direction and is buoyed by the progress the club has made since he took the reins in December 2019.
“It’s an unpredictable season,” said the Italian on Tuesday. “The games that seem easier than others become more and more difficult. We had the experience against Newcastle and Fulham. It’s this kind of season. We’re not the only team that lost at home: United lost, Liverpool lost.
“I think we are in the right way. In one year, the squad improved. We have more stability and knowledge. Of course we have to improve. We are not at the same level as the top teams. How long it takes I don’t know but in one year the work was good in every aspect.”
However, despite the strides forward, Ancelotti is aware his team must do better when they are favourites and have home advantage.
"We have to improve. We are still in a good position in the table, not because of what we did at home. At home it has not been good enough. The best games we played at home were against top teams."
Victory over City would be a massive statement that Everton are back on track before they head to Anfield on Saturday.