And then, there were five.
It was probably just the grave disappointment of his greatest ever professional defeat speaking, but after Manchester City’s 4-0 loss to Everton on Sunday, Pep Guardiola has effectively conceded the title to Chelsea. Guardiola has lost 4-0 twice before in his career, once against Real Madrid and once earlier this season against Barcelona, both times in the Champions League, but this was Everton and, well, Everton are no Barca or Real, no matter how we look at it. A clearly downtrodden Guardiola revealed that he’s told his players not to worry about the table, though with six teams vying for four spots, two will fail to reach their minimum goals of Champions League qualification.
“[The challenge for] the first one [place], yes. The first one is a 10-point gap and that is a lot of course. The second one [place] is three points, so we have to see.”
"I spoke with the players for the last three weeks to forget about the table, just 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.”
-Pep Guardiola; source: Express
Like Mourinho last season, Guardiola’s facing a situation he’s not familiar with at all, conceding a lot of goals and winning barely half his games. Since opening the season with six wins in a row, City have won just 7 out of 15 in the Premier League.
Of course, as Conte has been regularly reminding, it’s a long way to go yet. Chelsea do have a seven point lead over everyone else but there are 17 games to go yet. A lot can happen in those; even Manchester City might rediscover their early season form. But for now, things are looking pretty, pretty, pretty ... pretty good.