Pep Guardiola believes Chelsea are probably too far ahead of his Manchester City side for them to be considered Premier League title contenders.
City collapsed to a 4-0 thrashing against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, leaving them languishing in fifth – 10 points behind Antonio Conte’s relentless outfit after 21 games.
The capacity of Guardiola’s squad to even secure Champions League qualification should now be cast in a dim light, although he pointed out next Saturday’s match with in-form Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium provides a chance for redemption on that front.
“The first one [Chelsea], yeah. The first one, 10 points is a lot of points of course,” he told a post-match news conference at Goodison Park when asked whether the distance to the summit was too much.
“The second one is three points [Tottenham], so we have to see.
“I spoke to my players for the last three weeks or a month, saying forget about the table – focus on the next game and try to do our best, do what we need to do to win the game.
“After that, at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how was our level, how was our performance, how was the coach, how was the players. Then after we are going to decide.”
Under-fire City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo saw his ratio of shots saved take another battering as all four of Everton’s efforts on target ended up in his net, although the Chile international was done few favours by the back four in front of him.
But Guardiola insists his side’s problem in shipping goals – they have just four Premier League clean sheets this season and suffered a similar shellacking at Leicester City last month – is a collective one, with wastefulness in front of the opposition goal causing anxiety.
He cited the contrast with last Friday’s 5-0 FA Cup win at West Ham, where City dominated possession before the break – as they did at Goodison – but opened the scoring through a Yaya Toure penalty.
“Of course [this is] the first time in my life I received a lot of goals. It never happened before and that is why I have to know the reason why,” said the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, who added he would not deviate from his preferred style of play in search for solutions.
“To control the game, from my point of view, means to control the ball,” he explained. “In many cases, I know the people do not agree with me but the control means you have possession of the ball to create enough chances to score a goal and concede as few as possible.
“That happened, but what happened when Everton with their first chance it is a goal. It is a pass from Gael [Clichy] inside, we lose the ball and [Everton score with] a counter attack. We don’t hold the line, the pass comes back and [Romelu] Lukaku scores the goal.
“To avoid that you put the ball there – up. After that you lose the ball because our strikers are our strikers and you have 10 players behind. Maybe we’ll be solid but I don’t believe in that. I would like to play every time better and better and feel that when we arrive we are able to score goals.”
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