The Blues have work to do in the defence of their crown, but the man calling the shots at the Etihad Stadium is not looking too far ahead
Pep Guardiola will not allow his focus to drift towards the bigger picture of the Premier League title race as Manchester City chase victory at Newcastle United.
The defending champions but find themselves third after 13 matches, already nine points behind leaders Liverpool, who defeated Guardiola’s men at Anfield this month.
City kick off the latest weekend of Premier League action against Newcastle on Saturday, giving them a chance to leapfrog second-placed Leicester City – albeit possibly only temporarily.
That will be Guardiola’s aim at St James’ Park, with the Spaniard insisting he does not like to think about the season as a whole.
“I’m not thinking about how many games we have to win – I know we cannot lose games,” he told a news conference.
“I’m not thinking honestly about winning the Premier League right now. I never thought about it, even in the years we won.
“To win the Premier League, we have to be close to Leicester, first of all, and then to Liverpool.
“The target, when you play games in different competitions every three days, is the next one. You choose the best players possible for this specific game and try to win.”
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City came unstuck at Newcastle last season, having had to settle for a slightly nervy win during the previous campaign.
Guardiola added: “The last two seasons, we won 1-0 and, last season, we lost 2-1. Newcastle away is always one of the nicest environments and stadiums in England.
“Obviously, it’s a tough test, but next Tuesday we have Burnley and then the derby against [Manchester] United, so we know the situation we are in.
“We trained really good today [Friday]. I saw the team were ready. We fly this afternoon and then tomorrow, 12.30, we try to do a good game.”
Guardiola added on having come unstuck against the Magpies in 2018-19, a game which saw him lose his cool.
He said: “I never was angry with my players. All I said was the reality of what happened in the game. Saying the truth is not being angry or being grumpy.
“What happened is my job. When we are doing well I say we are doing well and when we are bad I say we are bad.
“The reason why we could not win that game is because Newcastle made an incredibly good defensive performance, had two shots on target and we didn’t play like we could.
“After that we spoke about the next game and tried to be who we are. At that moment I didn’t think we’d win the Premier League and win 14 games in a row. It’s a big mistake to think about that because it’s far away.
“We did the same meeting that we’ve done when I believe we need a meeting, nothing special. What I want for my players is that when we win, to understand the reason why we win or why we lose.”