Manchester City 'much better' than last year, says Pep Guardiola

AFP London, UK Mar 04, 2019, 04.58 PM(IST)

File photo of Pep Guardiola. Photograph:( Reuters )

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City are favourites to retain their crown after Saturday's 1-0 win at Bournemouth and Sunday's goalless Merseyside derby left them a point ahead of Jurgen Klopp's Reds with nine matches remaining.

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are playing "much better" than during last year's record-breaking campaign and his players should not be regarded as losers even if Liverpool pip them to the Premier League title.

City are favourites to retain their crown after Saturday's 1-0 win at Bournemouth and Sunday's goalless Merseyside derby left them a point ahead of Jurgen Klopp's Reds with nine matches remaining.

"In the way we play, we play much, much better (than last season)," Guardiola said. "Everybody knows exactly what we have to do, everybody helps each other. And when this happens, we can compete and if we lose, we lose, but no regrets.

"I know in our society just the first one has the credit and the second one is an absolute loser. But it is impossible to feel that about my players, it's impossible."

City smashed a host of records on the way to becoming champions in 2017/18, including amassing 100 points and scoring 106 goals.

Despite failing to replicate that level of dominance this term, they have overturned a seven-point deficit in recent months to wrestle top spot from Liverpool.

Victory at Bournemouth was their fifth in a row in the league and secured with 82 per cent possession and by preventing the hosts from registering a shot at goal.

Guardiola admits his team could easily have fallen out of title contention and feels their current position is even more remarkable because a League Cup success and progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals has resulted in a far busier fixture schedule than Liverpool.

"Of course we want to win the Premier League, I feel the players show me every single day they want to win it," he said.

"But we have played nine or 10 games more than Liverpool. It's a lot of minutes in our legs in all competitions.

"In spite of that, still we are there and that's why I'm happy. I would prefer it to be like last season's position -- to be 12 points in front -- but that is an exceptional situation."