Pep Guardiola said the “exceptional” quality of Chelsea and Liverpool make it impossible for him to believe that Manchester City are on course for a fourth Premier League title in five seasons, despite a 1-0 win at Brentford moving the champions eight points clear at the top of the table.
Phil Foden’s first-half goal secured City’s tenth successive league win and set up the prospect of Guardiola’s team opening a double-digit lead over Chelsea and Liverpool, who meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, by winning at Arsenal on Saturday.
No team with an eight-point lead at the end of December has failed to go on and win the Premier League title. But despite history and current form pointing to City winning the title by a healthy margin, Guardiola insisted that the race is still on.
“We won the game, are in a good run, but it is the end of December, so there will be many games like this,” Guardiola said after the win at Brentford. “Yes, we are eight points in front, but there are 54 more points to play for.
“54 points to play. 54. We were 4-0 up against Leicester and then in 20 minutes, it was a 4-3. Thanks for the nice words because we win, but I am not going to think it’s already done because Chelsea, the European champions, and Liverpool are more than exceptional.
“We won 10 games in a row, so when you get 30 from 30, you are in a good position. “But there are 54 points still to play. We have to come back to London on Saturday and play at 12:30, so let’s carry on.”
Guardiola paid tribute to Brentford’s tenacity and ability to make the most of their qualities after seeing Thomas Frank’s team make City work hard for the victory.
“We played a game against this team in this stadium as it must be played,” he said. “No free-kicks, set-pieces, move side to side and let the players make the difference.
“Some day you play with a different kind of rhythm to win and that is what we have done today.
“Every time Brentford put in the box, they are so good. They have beaten Arsenal here, drew with Liverpool. As a team, they are exceptional.”