LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Manchester City are back on top of the Premier League but manager Pep Guardiola certainly does not expect anything like a repeat of last season’s procession to the title.
After a 2-0 win at Everton on Wednesday, City are ahead of Liverpool on goal difference with Guardiola’s side having played one more game than Juergen Klopp’s challengers. Tottenham Hotspur are five points behind the leading pair.
Last year City won the title by 19 points and during the latter stages of the campaign, it was a case of when, not if, they would be crowned champions.
But while that is clearly not the case this year, Guardiola, a title winner in Spain and Germany as well as England, knows that their return to the pinnacle does not mean much.
“We are leaders, but 12 games to play, a lot of games. I think we are going to drop points, hopefully less than the other teams. I don’t think any team will win all 12 games,” he said.
“We have (played) one more game than Liverpool and if they win (their game in hand) we are not top,” he said.
“But being top is much better. Liverpool has to play this game.
“I don’t think too much about that but four or five days ago we could have been seven points behind, it is a lesson to never give up,” he added.
Guardiola’s side are two thirds through a tough week, which saw them beat Arsenal and now pits them against Chelsea at the Etihad on Sunday.
But he knows that Liverpool, who after their draw at West Ham on Monday will expect three points from their home game against Bournemouth on Saturday, have plenty of hurdles ahead of them.
“Liverpool have to go to Old Trafford,” he said, looking ahead to their away trip to Manchester United on Feb. 24 — the day City will be at Wembley for the League Cup final against Chelsea.
“I don’t know how far we will get, maybe we will die on the road, but we are trying,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar