Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists his side can still defend their Premier League crown despite Tuesday’s damaging defeat at Newcastle.
The champions slipped to a 2-1 loss at St James’ Park and could fall seven points behind leaders Liverpool on Wednesday as the Reds take on Leicester City at Anfield.
City host Arsenal at the weekend before games against Everton (a) and Chelsea (h), and Guardiola feels it is vital they take maximum points from that tricky run of games if they are to secure the top prize.
Manchester City are 3.20 to win the Premier League outright and Liverpool can be backed at 1.36. “Next week will be tough with Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea,” he said.
“If we want to go up as a club we have to accept that challenge. There are a lot of titles and points to play for.” Guardiola conceded the defeat at Newcastle was “not our best night” but moved to defend his players after their below-par performance.
“I love these players,” he added. “They gave me all the prestige I have in England. I will try to be here to help them.
I know how they feel right now and I am beside them, close to them. It is an incredible group of players, group of guys.
“Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t – we had won eight games in a row and scored 30 goals without reply.”
City are 9.50 to beat Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday and Raheem Sterling is 5.00 to score the first goal.