HomePremier League'Just 111 points to play for' - Guardiola plays down City's strong...

‘Just 111 points to play for’ – Guardiola plays down City’s strong start

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth – Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain – August 13, 2022 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

LONDON (Reuters) – Pep Guardiola laughed off suggestions his Manchester City had already established control of the Premier League title race after Liverpool’s early hiccups on Friday.

City and Liverpool were almost inseparable last season with City securing a fourth title in five years on the final day.

Guardiola’s side have begun the new campaign strongly with two wins from two games and no goals conceded, while Liverpool have drawn with Fulham and Crystal Palace.

“It’s very early days. I’m sorry but after two fixtures we cannot make any plans about the future,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Sunday’s trip to play Newcastle United. “After two games? Yeah yeah, just 111 points to play for.”

The Spaniard said a good pre-season had helped his players hit the ground running but said September will be more challenging when the games will come thick and fast.

“The three weeks were good, good long weeks of training. In September that is not going to happen. We have to improve our principles, our game,” he said.

“The last two games were really good, and at some points unexpected. The players prove to me again how wrong I was.”

Guardiola will be wary of a Newcastle side who have thrived under Eddie Howe and started the season in solid fashion.

“They are exceptional players in terms of how direct and aggressive they are. They have important players. Newcastle away is always an incredible environment,” Guardiola said.

After the Newcastle game, City will fly to Girona in Spain for a mid-season training camp and a charity friendly against Barcelona in honour of ex-Barcelona goalkeeper and assistant Juan Carlos Unzue, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2020.

Guardiola said he would love to get his boots on and play but probably would not, and he insisted it was a good opportunity for his players to charge their batteries ahead of the resumption of the Champions League.

“We will be together and the facilities we have here for 11 months are exceptional but at the same time sometimes a change is good,” Guardiola said. “It is the last time we have a long week, and then every three days we have a game.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson)