LONDON, Dec 11, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Manchester City will have history in their sights when the Premier League title favourites face Swansea City on Wednesday, while their rivals despair of ever catching the runaway leaders.
Pep Guardiola’s side surged 11 points clear at the top thanks to a season- defining 2-1 win at second-placed Manchester United on Sunday.
Nicolas Otamendi’s second-half strike clinched City’s record-equalling 14th successive league victory, forcing United manager Jose Mourinho to concede the title race is probably over.
City can hit a new high by beating Swansea at the Liberty Stadium to break the record they currently share with Arsenal for consecutive Premier League wins.
But Guardiola won’t let his side get carried away with 22 games still to play, especially with second-bottom Swansea fighting for their own survival.
“It means a lot in terms of the way we played for our confidence, but in three days we go to Swansea in the winter time. We are going to face a lot of difficulties,” he said.
“In December it is impossible to be champions but that gap is very good for us.”
United will look to bounce back from their first home defeat in 41 matches when they host Bournemouth.
If United can barely see City sprinting off into the distance, the view for champions Chelsea and the rest of the chasing pack is even more dispiriting.
Third-placed Chelsea lag 14 points behind City after a shock 1-0 defeat at West Ham United, while fourth-placed Liverpool are 16 adrift following their frustrating 1-1 draw against Merseyside rivals Everton.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte claimed Chelsea were no longer in the hunt following their loss in east London and captain Gary Cahill admitted they must bounce back at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.
“We were just not at the races – for whatever reason that is. It’s disappointing to come off and feel like that,” he said.
“We have been in good form of late which is why it’s so disappointing to put in a performance like that.
“We have to reflect, we have to pick ourselves up and go again. We have to try to freshen up and get the energy levels back up.”
– Tetchy Klopp –
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp showed the strain of seeing his team’s faint title hopes go up in smoke in the derby as he grumbled about Everton’s penalty equaliser.
Klopp, whose team host West Bromwich Albion in midweek, was seen remonstrating with referee Craig Pawson after the final whistle before he fumed his way through a tetchy television interview.
Pressed repeatedly by Klopp to reveal whether he thought it was a penalty, the interviewer said it was “soft” but the correct call, to which the German laughed and replied: “Then we can stop the interview. I only want to talk to people that have a little bit of an understanding of football.”
Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Southampton left them outside the top four, with qualification for next season’s Champions League a far more pressing goal than chasing down City.
With a derby at West Ham on the agenda on Wednesday, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger knows his team must guard against the kind of sloppy start that saw them concede against Southampton after three minutes — just a week after they let in two in the first 11 minutes of a loss to United.
“They were a bit apprehensive to start well again and that’s why it is sometimes not good to talk about the problem because you create a bigger one,” Wenger said.