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Pep Guardiola denies Manchester City are champions-elect

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus (left) and West Bromwich Albion's Jake Livermore battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus (left) and West Bromwich Albion's Jake Livermore battle for the ball during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

 

PEP Guardiola witnessed Manchester City equal the best-ever points haul after 10 Premier League games, but dismissed Jurgen Klopp’s suggestion they will be champions by January.

Guardiola’s side won an eighth successive top-flight game by beating West Brom at The Hawthorns to take their tally to 28 points from a possible 30 – a feat only the Chelsea side of 2005 and the City team of 2011 have otherwise achieved in the Premier League era.

In both of those instances, that team went on to win the division and Liverpool boss Klopp had suggested to France’s SFR Sport on Saturday morning that Guardiola’s men could have the title sewn up by the new year.

When that was put to Guardiola in his post-match press conference at The Hawthorns, he replied: “You are English – from a long time ago, did you see a champion in January? Me neither.”

Asked if it was unrealistic, Guardiola said: “Definitely.”

For now his team have a five-point cushion at the top having responded to Manchester United’s victory over Tottenham earlier in the day with a win of their own over the Baggies.

Leroy Sane’s 10th-minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Jay Rodriguez before Fernandinho’s deflected effort went in off the post to restore the visitors’ lead as three goals were scored in under five minutes.

Substitute Raheem Sterling finished off an exquisite City move after the break, but their victory looked less handsome when Matt Phillips made it 3-2 by capitalising on Nicolas Otamendi’s error in stoppage time.

Guardiola’s side have delivered more emphatic performances during their winning streak, but the way they are continuing to pick up three points has been pleasing to him.

“The way we played from the beginning for 90 minutes showed me a lot,” he added.

“You cannot win all the time by four, five, six goals, that is unrealistic. It’s important when you make a good performance you win comfortably and when you don’t play at the high level you’re able to win.

“I think that’s the big difference with last season – when we were not playing good there was no chance to win and this season, until now, it doesn’t happen.”

Unlike Klopp, West Brom manager Pulis feels the Premier League title’s destination is far from a foregone conclusion.

“They’re certainly one of the main contenders, but it’s a long season,” Pulis said of City. “They’re in all the cup competitions, they’ve got to be fortunate with injuries and the bounce of the ball. We’ve given them a game and there will be a lot of teams they’ll go away to when winter comes. You saw what happened to Manchester United when they went to Huddersfield [and lost], it was windy and wet.

“There’s a lot of obstacles to overcome. It’s not in the bag. There’s a lot to play for – the team across the road (United) will be thinking that, plus Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham. They’re outstanding teams, you’ve only got to look at the results in Europe.”