'Unrealistic to win title in Jan'

Guardiola shoots down Klopp's claim that City will win the EPL crown in three months' time

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has dismissed Juergen Klopp's claim that City will have the title won in January.

After their 3-2 win at West Brom last Saturday, City have equalled the best start to an EPL season after 10 games, collecting 28 points with a goal difference of plus-29.

The other two sides to have started the EPL season similarly both went on to clinch the title - the City side of 2011/2012 and Chelsea of 2005/06.

City have also extended their club record run to 13 consecutive wins in all competitions and eight in a row in the EPL.

But Guardiola, whose side are five points clear of nearest challengers Manchester United, is convinced his team have learnt from last season, when they faded off after a bright start.

Liverpool boss Klopp had suggested City can have the title wrapped up in January but Guardiola said that is unrealistic.

"Have you ever known a team win the title in January? Me neither. No. Totally unrealistic? Definitely," said the Spaniard.

"You cannot win all the time for five or six months - that is unrealistic, that is not football at the highest level."

Last season, City finished third, 15 points behind champions Chelsea, but Guardiola has seen improvements since that could make the difference.

"It is important when you don't play at the highest level, you are still able to win," he said.

"That is the big difference this season, because last season, when we were not playing well, there was no chance to win.

"Until now that hasn't happened. Our mood is good. We believe we're going to score goals and that we're going to concede few. The way we played showed me a lot in our performance to remain there."

Against West Brom, Leroy Sane and Fernandinho put City in front in the 10th and 15th minutes, either side of Jay Rodriguez's equaliser.

Substitute Raheem Sterling extended City's advantage with his first touch just after the hour mark before Matt Phillips gave the scoreline a flattering look with a second for the Baggies in time added on.

Sergio Aguero was kept on the bench and so denied the chance to become City's outright all-time top scorer.

Guardiola believes the high-level competition for places is keeping his players at the top of their game.

"You see the bench and you see how many good players there are with Danilo, Sergio, Raheem (Sterling), Yaya (Toure) and (Eliaquim) Mangala," he said. "They compete with each other - (Gabriel) Jesus has to play well because he knows Sergio is there."

His West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis denied City have clinched the title already.

"They are certainly one of the main contenders but it's a long season," he said. "There are lots of obstacles they have to overcome - they've got to be fortunate with injuries and get the bounce of the ball, so it is not in the bag yet."

City's next obstacle, after their midweek Champions League visit to Napoli, will be a resurgent Arsenal side whom they host on Sunday.

Whether City can wrap up the title in January may be debatable, but former England and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer believes they are taking the game to a new level.

Said the Sky Sports pundit: "They've scored 35 goals after 10 games. Even in 2011 under Roberto Mancini, they had 26.

"It must be a joy to play in (this team), particularly for the forwards with the way they create chances. It must be a brilliant team to play in." - WIRE SERVICES

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