Pep Guardiola is adamant Manchester City will retain the Premier League title despite a run of three consecutive draws which has left them three points behind leaders Arsenal.
Guardiola’s side suffered their latest setback on Sunday when Dejan Kulusevski’s late equaliser secured a 3-3 draw for Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium, after which the club were hit with an FA charge for failing to control their players.
Guardiola defended the behaviour of his players in his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Aston Villa and insisted he remains confident that Manchester City will triumph in the title race.
Asked whether City could use the controversy of the Tottenham game as motivation, Guardiola said: “No, I never use these kinds of situations. Today, the motivation is to try to do it better. Sometimes the decisions help, sometimes they don’t.
“I learned from where I come from that, if you want to win something, you have to do much, much better than your opponents.
“When you are level, you always have the feeling that it’s not going to happen, so you have to do much, much better. This is what you have to do.
“My feeling today is we are going to win the Premier League. If you ask me, we are going to win the Premier League. If we play at the level we played against Liverpool and Tottenham, we are going to win it again.
“The people don’t believe it already because of three draws, but we are going to do it again, knowing that it is not easy, because no team has done it yet [won four titles in a row].
“That’s why the difficulty is there. But if you ask me today, ‘what are you feeling?’ We are going to do it again.”
City have appeared uncharacteristically vulnerable defensively lately, conceding eight goals in their last three Premier League games against Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea.
But, despite the goals conceded, Guardiola insists he has no concerns over their performance levels, suggesting their underlying numbers, in terms of chances conceded, are as encouraging as ever.
“I’m concerned about the goals conceded, definitely. Of course I am.
My feeling today is we are going to win the Premier League
“But I’m saying that the average is lower than last season, the chances conceded in every single game except the Chelsea game.
“Chelsea created more than usual, but in the rest of the games, it’s the same level as in the previous seasons when we won a lot of titles.
“We are at the same level as last season and in previous seasons in terms of the chances created as well. Even, I would say, a little bit higher.”
‘We have behaved incredibly well’
Guardiola insisted he is unsure whether City plan to appeal their FA charge after the decision of referee Simon Hooper to stop Jack Grealish from running through on goal against Spurs sparked a furious reaction from his players.
There were angry scenes after full-time, too, with Erling Haaland later expressing his disbelief on social media.
“No, I don’t know any info about that,” said Guardiola when asked how he expects the club to react. “The club didn’t tell me anything.
“We have behaved incredibly in these years, especially this season, how we behaved in our not-good results.
“The decisions sometimes are in favour, sometimes against [us], but we behaved even after the game.
“The comments from my players [were] about accepting we can do better – and me first. It’s what I want to see of my club and my team.
“After that, we will accept all the decisions of the Premier League or whatever.”