Pep Guardiola has conceded that Manchester City’s Premier League title defence is over, after his side’s 3-2 defeat to Wolves on Friday handed Liverpool a 13-point advantage at the top of table.
Despite an early sending off for goalkeeper Ederson, City took a 2-0 lead at Molineux, with Raheem Sterling bagging a brace to put his team in the driving seat. However, a mesmerising second half performance by Adama Traore inspired Wolves to secure a famous victory, with Matt Doherty’s 89th-minute winner sparking wild celebrations from the home fans.
After the game, Guardiola admitted that he was downbeat about the Citizens chances of securing a third Premier League title in a row.
When asked if the race for top spot was over, the former Barcelona boss told the BBC: “The advantage is too big, yes.”
Leicester – who Liverpool thrashed 4-0 on Boxing Day – are currently one point ahead of City in second position and Guardiola revealed that he is now focussed on overtaken Brendan Rodgers’ side before the end of the season.
“It’s unrealistic to think about Liverpool, we think about Leicester,” he added. “We have the chance to recover second place. I know the quality of my team but that’s the situation.”
Citizens’ midfielder Bernardo Silva will similarly dismissive of his side’s title chances.
“It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season. Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point,” Silva admitted.
“We have to continue now. We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn’t say impossible but very difficult.”
With their hopes of securing the league title seemingly gone, it may have been assumed City would pool their resources into winning the various cup competitions that they are competing in this season. When asked about this possibility Guardiola instead confirmed that he will be prioritising European qualification through finishing in the top four over anything else.
“We cannot prioritise or next season we’ll not be in Europe,” the Spaniard said.. “We come back in less than 40 hours to play another game [against Sheffield United]. We’ll see how [the players] feel. That’s what we are going to do.”