Pep Guardiola rules Manchester City out of title race after Everton thrashing

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Pep Guardiola rules Manchester City out of title race after Everton thrashing” was written by Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, for The Guardian on Sunday 15th January 2017 18.17 UTC

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City were out of the Premier League title race after enduring the heaviest league defeat of his managerial career against Everton.

City were beaten 4-0 at Goodison Park where two teenagers, the impressive Tom Davies and the new signing Ademola Lookman, scored their first Everton goals and two Belgium internationals, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas, were also on the scoresheet. The defeat left City 10 points adrift of the league leaders Chelsea and outside the Champions League qualification places.

Asked whether City were out of the title race, Guardiola replied: “Yes. The first one is a 10-point gap and that is a lot. The second one is three points, so we have to see. I spoke with the players for the last three weeks to forget about the table, focus on the next game and do our best. After that, at the end of the season, we’ll analyse how our level was, our performance, the coach, the players. After we are going to decide.”

Everton opened the scoring with their first shot on target – the fourth time in seven Premier League games City have fallen behind to an opening attempt. Guardiola insisted the problem lay not with his defence but the team’s failure to convert one of several chances before Lukaku struck. He said: “Believe me, I would like to know why [it keeps happening]. I will be concerned and worried when the opponents arrive six or seven times and create a lot of chances. That’s then our problem to control the game.

“I know in many cases the people don’t agree with me but to control the game means you have the possession to create enough chances and concede as few as possible. That has happened. But what happens when they arrive for the first time it’s a goal. Gaël Clichy loses the ball, they make the counterattack and we don’t have our line. To avoid that you put the ball up. Then you lose the ball because our strikers are our strikers, and 10 men behind the ball. Maybe we would be solid with that but I don’t believe in it.

“I want us to get better and better and feel we are able to score goals. When that happens we are going to suffer less behind. Our strikers will have more confidence. It is tough for the players. I was a player and understand how tough it is for them right now. We are trying to do absolutely everything. But it’s not the first time it’s happened this season.”

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