Man City must have laser focus, says Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City have to avoid being distracted by other teams’ results in the Premier League title race as they prepare to face an “exceptional” Chelsea at the Etihad on Saturday.

Defending champions City are second in the table, level on points with Arsenal and two adrift of leaders Liverpool, with a game in hand, as they hunt an unprecedented fourth consecutive English top-flight title.

Guardiola’s team have won their last 11 matches in all competitions.

“When you arrive at the last eight to 10 games we will see how many teams will be involved (in the title race),” the City manager said on Friday.

“I think these three will be there but the distance between fourth (Tottenham) and fifth (Aston Villa) is also so minor.

“It doesn’t matter if there are two, three or four as long as we win our games. Win our games and do our job — the rest doesn’t matter.”

Chelsea’s form this season has been patchy and they remain in mid-table, but Guardiola knows his side cannot afford to take Mauricio Pochettino’s men lightly.

“It’s an exceptional team in all departments, (it’s) one of the toughest games we have until the end of the season,” he said. They’ve been playing really well in the last games. They have everything — intensity and quality.

“Most teams are defined by if they don’t lose the ball and it’s difficult to find a player who loses the ball. They are a really good team. It’s a tough one tomorrow.”

England international Jack Grealish has been ruled out of Saturday’s clash after being forced off with a groin injury in City’s Champions League win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Former City forward Cole Palmer will be returning to the Etihad Stadium for the first time since he joined Chelsea for £40 million ($50 million) in September.

The 21-year-old City academy graduate has been one of Chelsea’s standout players this season.

“Of course (we’re pleased for him),” said Guardiola. “He is a lovely lad and he helped us to achieve what we achieved.

“We didn’t have any doubts about his quality. The way he is playing, he’s a star player. He’s already an exceptional player. He moved on to get the minutes he has. It was just a matter of time and he has shown his quality.”


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