Pep Guardiola admits Manchester City cannot afford to lose anymore games if they are to land a third consecutive Premier League title.
City trail Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders, who have dropped only two points so far this season, by nine points ahead of Saturday’s meeting against Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Guardiola says he could never have imagined their 2-1 defeat at Newcastle last season would precede a 14-game winning run which saw them eventually overturn a seven-point deficit to win the Premier League ahead of Liverpool.
The City boss rejects the assertion that the defeat against Liverpool earlier this month could, similarly, prove to be a turning point in their campaign.
“I am not thinking about how many games we have to win. I know we cannot lose games,” Guardiola said.
“I am not thinking about winning the Premier League now. I never thought, even in the years we won, ‘we have to do this to win the Premier League’. First we have to get past Leicester, then Liverpool.
“The target when you play this competition every three days, games in different competitions, is [about] the next one. Choose the best player for this specific game and try to win.”
City face another potentially defining week in the league campaign, with their match at Newcastle followed by another trip to Burnley on Tuesday before the derby against Manchester United at the Etihad on Saturday.