Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Manchester City back on top but Pep Guardiola expects more twists and turns in Premier League title race

Goals in added time at the end of each half from Laporte and Jesus see City leapfrog Liverpool on goal difference

Gabriel Jesus, left, scored Manchester City's second goal against Everton deep into injury time on Wednesday. EPA
Gabriel Jesus, left, scored Manchester City's second goal against Everton deep into injury time on Wednesday. EPA

Manchester City moved back to the Premier League summit following victory over Everton, but manager Pep Guardiola says he expects more twists and turns in the title race.

Aymeric Laporte headed the opener just before the interval and substitute Gabriel Jesus sealed the victory deep in stoppage time for City, who returned to the league's summit for the first time since December 8.

The victory took City level on 62 points with Liverpool but ahead on goal difference, although Guardiola's side have now played a game more than the Reds. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur are five points behind the leading pair.

It's a far cry from last season's title procession as City romped to the title by 19 points, sewing up their third Premier League crown in six years with five games to spare.

Guardiola was pragmatic in his assessment of City leapfrogging their rivals, acknowledging being top in February does not count for much with more than three months of the campaign still to go.

"We are leaders, but 12 games to play, a lot of games. I think we are going to drop points, hopefully less than the other teams. I don't think any team will win all 12 games," he said.

“We have [played] one more game than Liverpool and if they win [their game in hand] we are not top," he said.

"But being top is much better. Liverpool has to play this game.

"I don't think too much about that but four or five days ago we could have been seven points behind, it is a lesson to never give up."

City's February's fixture is a daunting one. The game against Everton was a re-arranged fixture caused by City's advance to the League Cup final and highlighted the difficulties to come for a side still involved in four competitions as there were some signs of weariness in their display.

Guardiola's side are two thirds through a tough week, which saw them beat Arsenal and now pits them against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. They face League Two outfit Newport County in the fifth round of the FA Cup the following Saturday before welcoming German club Schalke in the first leg of the Uefa Champions League last 16 on February 21. City will attempt to retain their League Cup title three days later when they face Chelsea at Wembley before rounding off the month with a league game at home to West Ham United.

But Guardiola knows that Liverpool, who face a Bournemouth side that has lost their last eight away games at Anfield on Saturday, have plenty of hurdles ahead of them too.

"Liverpool have to go to Old Trafford," he said, looking ahead to their away trip to Manchester United on February 24.

"I don't know how far we will get, maybe we will die on the road, but we are trying," he said.

Updated: February 7, 2019 10:41 AM

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