Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City were once again the better team against Chelsea, despite losing a second league game of the season to the champions elect.
The Catalan’s side were defeated 2-1, meaning they have not won in four Premier League games and now face a real challenge to finish in the top four, but he said he was encouraged by the performance.
“Absolutely,” Guardiola said when asked whether City were the better team. “But they got six points against us, and we got zero. Football is about results. But the way we played... I was happier today with the way we played compared to Arsenal [a 2-2 draw], and we got a point less.
“I don't want to see the way we played against Arsenal again. The onus is on us to go for the game so we can say we did absolutely everything, working to win it. We played against a team of [Eden] Hazard, Diego Costa, Fabregas, Willian... Willian is not even in their first XI. But the way we played I'm so satisfied. I'm a lucky guy to be here with them.”
Guardiola felt City were unlucky in both games against Chelsea, pointing to chances missed, but insisted that the December 3-1 defeat at home was the true turning point in their season.
“The game at the Etihad was a key point in our season in the Premier League. We arrived there four points behind, played much better, didn't have two penalties, created chances which we didn't take, then the red cards... Then it was seven points, then 10 after Leicester... That moment in the season was so important for us in terms of the competition.
“But you cannot expect to create 20 chances against Chelsea and them not created anything. I have no regrets with the way we've played. We're doing things the right way. We have to analyse things for next season because we have to win games like this. But, for now, congratulations to Chelsea.
“Today the Premier League has gone. Now we have to think about qualifying for the Champions League and finishing in the top four.”
There was further encouragement for Guardiola in the performances of the returning Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph, who have both struggled for fitness all season.
“They played amazing. Vincent we can't forget how he suffered in that period, in that year, and he played really well. … He would have competed with Nico (Otamendi), with Kola (Kolarov), with the other ones of course. Vincent, when he's fit, is a top central defender. But he's not been fit for two and a half years. Today was a good performance. It's not easy to defend against Diego Costa.”
Guardiola, however, refused to say Chelsea are destined to be champions.
"Tottenham is there."