Jesus Navas believes Manchester City have to win all eight of their remaining Premier League games to have any chance of retaining the title ahead of Monday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
City overhauled Liverpool to be crowned champions with a late charge last season, but it appears unlikely Chelsea will falter this term.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men won 2-0 at Selhurst Park a year ago, on the same day that Liverpool lost at home to Chelsea, and that proved to be a key moment in the title race.
City have not won in the capital since then and Navas knows they must secure all three points at the expense of Alan Pardew’s men.
He told the club’s official website: “I think they are a very difficult team to beat, especially since Pardew took over [in January]. They play with a lot of intensity so we will have to be very focused.
“We haven’t won in London this season so we want to end that run. We know they will come at us and that their supporters will be noisy if we allow them to get on top so we need to try and take control as quickly as possible.
“We know we have to win this game to keep the pressure up on Chelsea and our rivals. There are a few strong teams coming from behind and we need to get wins in order to catch Chelsea, which is still possible.
“There are teams that are pushing to close the gap with us and we really need to win to preserve our position. As far as the title is concerned, the only thing we can do is try to win all our remaining games and see what happens.”
Edin Dzeko was on target in City’s victory at Palace last season and the striker staked his claim for a starting berth this time around by scoring a hat-trick for Bosnia-Herzegovina in a 3-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win over Andorra.
Pellegrini expects to have a fully fit squad at his disposal, so Yaya Toure (Achilles) and Aleksandar Kolarov (muscle problem) are set to return after missing the 3-0 win over West Brom before the international break.
City have won their last seven games against Palace, who have not scored in the four most recent meetings between the two sides.
However, Palace come into Monday’s match on the back of wins over QPR and Stoke City, and the pressure will be off the home side as they attempt to end their dismal run against the champions.
Pardew has stated his belief that City can still win the title, but if his side can deny them victory then that would appear even more improbable.
Palace strikers Marouane Chamakh and Fraizer Campbell remain sidelined with hamstring injuries, while Jordon Mutch (thigh) and Mile Jedinak (suspension) also miss out.