Man City can’t afford to drop many more points, says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola feels his side have little room for error in the Premier League title race.

The champions could find themselves five points behind leaders Arsenal come their next league game against Newcastle on Saturday if the Gunners beat Everton in midweek.

Guardiola said at a press conference: “I have the feeling in the Premier League many things are going to happen.

“Everyone is going to drop points but we cannot drop many if we are going to fight until the end.”

Despite claiming a crucial victory over their chief title rivals at the Emirates Stadium earlier this month, City have been inconsistent since the World Cup.

They restored some confidence after frustrating draws against Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig in the last week, however, with a convincing 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Guardiola said: “The game we are playing is good. The results could be better – in terms of winning at Spurs or Nottingham – but sometimes that happens.

“Of course it’s not exceptional – it’s OK, it’s good – but I don’t have complaints with the way we are playing and fighting.

“I said after the last game against Bournemouth that the mood in the locker room is exceptional and the guys are doing everything, and that’s enough for me.”

City are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Championship side Bristol City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Guardiola expects a reasonable test against Nigel Pearson’s side, who have not lost since Boxing Day.

The City boss said: “Last 12 games no defeat – that gives me a lot of info. It means they are there.

“My scouts say they are good team, the manager has a lot of experience. He did really well at Leicester and Watford.

“It’s a final. The FA Cup is an important competition, really important. It’s a serious team that is going to play tomorrow.”

The game could provide an opportunity for £45million summer signing Kalvin Phillips to make a rare start.

Kalvin Phillips
Kalvin Phillips has endured a frustrating start to life at Manchester City (Adam Davy/PA).

The England international has started just one game for City in a curious campaign in which he was expected to ease some of the midfield burden on Rodri.

As well as injury problems, the 27-year-old was criticised by Guardiola for being overweight and he has struggled to get meaningful game time off the bench.

Yet he was given 35 minutes at the Vitality Stadium at the weekend and could see more action in the season’s decisive weeks.

Guardiola said: “Kalvin is adapting and adjusting a little bit. Some players need a bit more time.

“I have the feeling he needs a little bit more time to learn more about our rhythm, but it was so important for him to play the minutes he played at Bournemouth for the rhythm.

“Of course we need him until the end of the season because there are many games, but Rodri is so important at the moment. That is the reason why (he has not played much).”