Pep Guardiola turned focus to the Premier League title race after Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League last 16 with a 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.

A point was enough for the English champions to advance through as Group C winners with a game to spare thanks to Dinamo Zagreb's defeat to Atalanta.

City struggled to get going at the Etihad Stadium but took the lead through Ilkay Gundogan 11 minutes into the second half, only for substitute Manor Solomon to equalise soon after.

Despite his side's underwhelming display, making it back-to-back European draws, Guardiola was ultimately pleased to see his side achieve their aim of progression.

"We qualify and we played well in the second half," Guardiola, who had won nine of his previous 12 matches against Shakhtar, told BT Sport.

"The second half was better than the first. We conceded only a few counter-attacks. 

"In the first half we were too hurried in our play and gave away possession but in the second half we were more measured and improved.

"I've played against Shakhtar Donetsk many times and they always have quality players. In general, we created chances but the draw was enough in the end. 

"Now we have one competition already done, and our focus will be the Premier League, until we arrive in the cups. The target was to qualify and we have done it."

City have advanced out of the group phase in seven successive seasons, four of those under Guardiola, and the Catalan coach admitted the club have come a long way.

"This process, where we are right now and where we were a decade ago... seven years in a row means you have to qualify seven times and be there and go through," he added at his post-match news conference.

"We will see in which conditions we arrive in the knockout rounds, but now it is time to focus on the Premier League."

Guardiola's side are unbeaten in 10 group-stage games since October 2018 and head to Zagreb next month.

The two-time Champions League-winning coach suggested he will not play a weakened team in Croatia, however, as he does not want to devalue the competition.

"Of course I will take a look but we are going to have enough players. We will use the first team," he said. "The Champions League is prestigious. 

"We are going to travel with the intention to win. For respect for Shakhtar and Atalanta we have to do it."

The draw leaves Ukrainian champions Shakhtar second in Group C, a point better off than Dinamo and two in front of next opponents Atalanta.

Head coach Luis Castro was pleased with the result, which stretches his side's unbeaten away run in the competition to four games and leaves them well positioned to qualify.

"To be honest, any result I accept normally," he said. "The game is never evaluated by how many corners or fouls or opportunities there were. 

"In every game there are certain statistics we can look at. We could have won, City could have won but the result was 1-1.

"In principle, as we expected, the last game of City will be against Dinamo Zagreb. We knew if we lost we could be out of the competition. 

"We are happy with both results and everything will be decided by the last game. We will see."

Much of Manchester City's Champions League encounter against Shakhtar Donetsk felt like a case of familiarity breeding torpor.

A 1-1 draw sent City into the last 16 as Group C winners with a game to spare, while Shakhtar held their spot in second. And yet describing any element of Tuesday's action as celebratory would be a stretch.

Drawn together in the round-robin phase of Europe's premier club competition for a third consecutive season, the respective champions of England and Ukraine treated the Etihad Stadium to a contest with all the intensity of a weekly five-a-side knockaround between work colleagues.

While City's back-to-back 3-0 wins in Kharkiv stand among the best they have produced under Pep Guardiola on the road in Europe, the contests in Manchester have proved diminishing spectacles.

In September 2017, Shakhtar posed plenty of questions of City as Bernard and Fred – sure to be success stories in the Premier League – impressed before Kevin De Bruyne found a brilliant, game-breaking opener early in the second half. Raheem Sterling could only make the points safe in the final minute.

Last season, an over-matched Shakhtar were walloped 6-0 as Gabriel Jesus scored two penalties in a hat-trick. Three days earlier, Southampton had lost 6-1 on the same ground.

The 2019-20 version of City do not presently pack the same thrill. De Bruyne was still the man poking and prodding the visitors, but his deliveries into the box generally met orange-clad limbs and heads, with Jesus straining at the leash for his chance to impress in Sergio Aguero's injury absence.

Feeding off scraps, the Brazil international was unable to make his case convincingly and might have fancied squaring off against the more laissez-faire defensive efforts of his own team.

Shakhtar made a habit of targeting the left-hand side of City's defence with raking passes - diminutive left-back Angelino the focus of their fascination.

Ederson scurried from his box to meet one such inquisition, only to miss the ball entirely. In keeping with contest, Tete sauntered towards the unguarded net bereft of urgency and Fernandinho slid in to clear his eventual shot.

A favourite from his time at the club between 2005 and 2013, Fernandinho was again warmly received by the Donetsk contingent and it is easy to see why affection endures for such a formidable footballer.

Thrust into an unfamiliar role due to City's failure to replace Vincent Kompany and a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte, the 34-year-old now seems relatively secure as Guardiola's first-choice in the heart of defence.

He has found himself marshalling a backline under unexpectedly regular siege. This is perhaps best explained by the fact a defence including Fernandinho cannot be protected by Fernandinho the holding midfield lynchpin.

A City engine room featuring Rodri and opening goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan is easy on the eye but perhaps as much for opponents as spectators at times.

Guardiola teams are at their best when the pressing is frenetic and, not for the first time in recent weeks, City were unimpressive out of possession. Angelino's struggle under long balls was only as concerning as the frequency with which they were allowed to arrive.

De Bruyne unpicked the lock in the 56th minute, leaving Jesus to bundle untidily but effectively through the front door and porch before laying the ball on a welcome mat for Gundogan.

Recent editions of this fixture suggested City would power away, but Tete and Dodo combined to expose their brittle left flank and substitute Manor Solomon slammed in a 69th-minute equaliser.

There concluded the scoring in a formulaic Champions League group stage encounter devoid of the jeopardy that Shakhtar's final matchday showdown with Atalanta will mercifully feature.

Guardiola would bridle at the suggestion, but this felt like City marking time before the cut-and-thrust of the knockout stages in the new year, where the return of Laporte and Leroy Sane must bring back the devilment.

Going through the motions was enough to go through as group winners; it will not do if Guardiola is to complete his trophy collection in Manchester.

Manchester City progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League for a seventh season running despite playing out a 1-1 home draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

In the absence of injured club-record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, Pep Guardiola's men produced a flat display that saw them fail to get out of first gear for large parts.

Even after edging in front 11 minutes into the second period through Ilkay Gundogan, City - saved by a brilliant Fernandinho goal-line clearance in the opening period - could not kick on.

Substitute Manor Solomon hit back for Shakhtar with just over 20 minutes remaining to make it back-to-back Group C draws for City, though top spot was secured thanks to Dinamo Zagreb's defeat at Atalanta.

Real Madrid still have work to do in their bid to reach the last 16 of the Champions League as they prepare for the visit of Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG are already through to the knockout stages and opponents Madrid can join them with victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On-loan striker Mauro Icardi has been in inspired form for the French champions since joining from Inter, scoring 10 times in 11 appearances.

The 26-year-old failed to register in the reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes – a 3-0 win for PSG in September – but he can make some history should he score on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, victory for Atletico Madrid away to Juventus will make certain of a last-16 spot with a game to spare, while Jose Mourinho takes charge of Tottenham in the Champions League for the first time as they welcome Olympiacos to north London.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Tuesday's eight matches.

Galatasaray v Club Brugge

0 - Galatasaray are the only team in this season's Champions League yet to score. There have been six previous occasions in which a team have failed to score in their opening five games, including the Turkish side in the 1993-94 season.

1 - Club Brugge have won just one of their last 18 Champions League games, with that victory coming away at Monaco in November 2018.

Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayer Leverkusen

8 - Since the start of last season, no side have lost more Champions League matches than Lokomotiv.

4 - Leverkusen are without a win in their last four away games in the Champions League, failing to score in their past three outings – the German club's longest-such run in the competition.

Atalanta v Dinamo Zagreb

11 - Only Genk (12) have conceded more goals in open play in this season's Champions League than Atalanta (11).

36 - Dinamo have had the joint-fewest shots of any team in the Champions League this season, level with Galatasaray. They have the best conversion rate of any team, however, scoring with nine of those 36 shots (25 per cent).

Red Star Belgrade v Bayern Munich

11 - Bayern are enjoying their longest ever unbeaten run away from home in the European Cup/Champions League, going 11 matches since last tasting defeat.

7 - Red Star have lost seven of their first 10 Champions League games. Only four teams have lost more in their opening 10 matches - Sturm Graz, Rapid Vienna, Malmo, Maccabi Tel Aviv (eight defeats each).

Juventus v Atletico Madrid

25 - Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 25 goals against Atletico in all competitions - only versus Sevilla (27) has he netted more.

2009 - Atletico, beaten 2-1 at Bayer Leverkusen last time out, have not lost consecutive away games in the group stage of UEFA's showpiece competition since October 2009 when losing to Porto and Chelsea.

Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk

6 - City have won their last six home Champions League matches - the longest current run of any side. The last English team to have a longer run were Chelsea, with seven in a row at Stamford Bridge between March 2008 and February 2009.

0 - Shakhtar have lost on both of their visits to the Etihad Stadium, conceding eight goals without replay. The Ukrainian club have never lost each of their first three away games against a single team in the competition. 

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain

8 - Madrid have won eight and lost none of their 11 Champions League home games against French opposition, winning the last five such matches in a row by an aggregate score of 15-1.

5 - PSG striker Icardi has scored against five of the six teams he has faced in the competition, the exception being Madrid (one game).  No player has ever faced as many as six teams and scored against every opponent, with the record currently held Milinko Pantic, who scored against all four opponents in 1996-97 for Atletico.

Tottenham v Olympiacos

0 - Tottenham have never drawn a Champions League group match on home soil, winning 10 and losing four.

8 - Olympiacos have lost their last six away matches in the competition. Not since between September 2001 and December 2003 have they endured a longer wait for victory on their travels.

David Villa believes Pep Guardiola can lead Manchester City to Champions League success after hailing the Spanish manager.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola lifted the trophy twice during his time at Camp Nou, most recently in 2011.

Guardiola failed to go all the way in three seasons with Bayern, however, and has fallen well short in his three full campaigns at the Etihad Stadium.

City were eliminated in the last-16 stage in 2017 and have failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the last two years, but Villa is convinced Guardiola can guide them to glory.

"For all the coaches and all the big clubs, it's normal to focus on the Champions League, because it's the best tournament you can play with a club," he told The Mirror.

"Pep is obviously one of the best coaches in the world and obviously the subject of his focus is to win all the trophies.

"Manchester City have never won this trophy, they've been behind in terms of it for many years, so it's normal they have a big obsession with this kind of trophy.

"It's the best tournament you can play as a soccer player, but it's difficult to win for everyone, not just one or two clubs.

"It's very difficult to win, and obviously you need to do a lot of work to win it."

Villa, part of the Barcelona side that won the Champions League under Guardiola eight years ago at Wembley, has not been surprised by his former coach's domestic success in England.

"He's a great coach," Villa said. "I was with him for two fantastic years at Barcelona and he helped me a lot.

"He will have success wherever he goes. He managed in Spain and was successful, the same in Germany, and now in England.

"So wherever he manages, he will be successful, because he's such an amazing coach."

City will be through to the knockout rounds of Europe's showpiece competition if they avoid defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Key to their European hopes is the form of England international Raheem Sterling, who Villa labelled a unique type of player.

"He's amazing, a player with qualities that it's difficult to find in any other player," added Villa, who is retiring from football next month after a glittering and trophy-laden career with Barca, Atletico Madrid and Spain.

"He's fast, he's really good in one-on-ones, and this year he's scoring a lot of goals. He's improving year by year, which is the most important thing for a soccer player.

"When you're 18, 19, 20, and playing at the highest level, for teams like Liverpool and City, the most important thing is to get better every year.

"It's important to grow as a player and every year Sterling has done it. You see he's a better player day by day, year by year, and he's still very young."

Pep Guardiola has conceded he is uncertain if Mikel Arteta will remain as his assistant for much longer amid reports of Arsenal's interest.

Former Gunners midfielder Arteta joined Guardiola's backroom staff in 2016 and has become highly thought of as an assistant coach as Manchester City have stormed to domestic dominance.

Arteta, who spent five years at Arsenal after signing from Everton in 2011, was linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger in 2018, only for Unai Emery to be appointed instead.

Despite a run to the Europa League final last season, ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach Emery has failed to impress, with reports suggesting he is on the brink of dismissal following a poor start to the campaign.

Arteta has again being referenced as a front runner for the job should Emery leave his role.

And, while emphasising his wish for Arteta to remain at City, Guardiola acknowledged it may be difficult to keep his compatriot on board beyond the end of the current campaign.

"Emery is manager of Arsenal," Guardiola told a news conference when asked about the reports linking Arteta with a return to north London.

"Of course [Mikel] will be a manager sooner or later, if I was in his position, an assistant coach as young as he is [I'd want to be a manager too], but now we're going to finish this season. In the future I don't know what's going to happen.

"I would like [Mikel] to stay with us as much as possible. Manchester City has an incredible value for a person to work at this club for the future, but personal life is personal life, professional desires are professional for each person.

"Everyone, not just me, is more than satisfied to have him here, but what happens at the end of the season, I don't know."

Guardiola also claimed Arteta's managerial credentials were clear from early on in their working relationship, believing the midfield role which both he and Arteta occupied in their playing days provides the ideal platform for a coaching career.

"He was an incredible player, normally with a holding midfielder they have a vision of all the pitch," Guardiola said. 

"The holding midfielder is an incredible lesson during your career as a player to learn what happens. You don't need to go to [coaching] school, he was so clever in that.

"More than that he is an incredible human being, work ethic, he works a lot. I said after a few months we were together that this guy would be a manager sooner or later. He is already a manager, he works like a manager.

"That is why we're satisfied to have him here."

Sergio Aguero will miss the Manchester derby with a thigh problem sustained in the win over Chelsea, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Aguero was forced off with the injury in the 77th minute of City's 2-1 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.

Guardiola informed reporters after the match that he believed Aguero's injury was "bad" but could not provide any further details.

However, in his news conference to preview City's Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk, Guardiola confirmed Aguero will be out of action for several weeks, meaning the striker - who has scored nine league goals this term - will miss the clash with Manchester United on December 7.

"Yes," Guardiola responded when asked if City would be without Aguero for the derby.

"He will be out for a few games, don't know exactly [how long], a few weeks, but he'll be out."

Guardiola was unable to pinpoint Aguero's exact issue, but suggested the problem was a muscular one in the striker's thigh.

"Exactly where I don't know, his [thigh] tendon, at the front."

Gabriel Jesus is set to lead City's line in Aguero's absence, with the 22-year-old Brazil international, who has five goals in all competitions so far in 2019-20, confident he can grasp the opportunity to shine.

"I'm not happy because Sergio is injured. I don't like my friends being injured but I work here every day and I'm ready to play, because I want to improve so yes, I'm ready," Jesus said.

"It's not easy [to wait]. I'm a guy who wants to play, wants to work and improve. I don't feel happy because I want to play but I respect everything and keep working.

"I have to do it all of the time because I am at a big club with big players and a big manager so I have to work and improve as much as possible."

Despite playing second fiddle to Aguero, Jesus insists he has no regrets over moving to City in January 2017.

"When I decided to come to City I knew it was going to be hard because we have Sergio who is the top scorer of the club and scores every game, I knew this," Jesus added.

"I have a chance to play under Pep, with top players here at a big club so that's why I came, to enjoy it and to learn."

The battle for Jadon Sancho's signature looks set to begin.

Four high-profile clubs in England and Spain are reportedly monitoring the teenager, one of Europe's brightest prospects.

Aggrieved with recent events at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho could now seek a new home for next season.

 

TOP STORY – CLUBS QUEUE UP FOR 'SCAPEGOAT' SANCHO

Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid are the "leading quartet" of suitors for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Athletic.

Former club Manchester City have also asked to be "kept informed" following a string of events that have upset the 19-year-old England winger, notably his first-half substitution in the 4-0 Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Sancho's representatives are said to have deemed that move "disgraceful", paving the way for his Dortmund departure at the end of the Bundesliga season.

 

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba's prolonged absence for Manchester United is part of a concerted effort to force through a January transfer to LaLiga giants Madrid, claims Spanish journalist Paco Gonzalez. Pogba, not sighted since September, is recovering from an ankle injury.

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is weighing up a move to AC Milan. The 38-year-old is available on a free transfer after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic has been linked to Bologna, Tottenham, Napoli and Perth Glory.

West Ham are considering replacing Manuel Pellegrini with Chris Wilder, reports The Mirror. The Hammers are languishing 16th in the Premier League after 13 games, while Wilder's Sheffield United are riding high in sixth. Chris HughtonDavid Moyes and Rafael Benitez are reportedly among the other candidates should West Ham lose patience with Pellegrini.

- Wolves defender Owen Otasowie is wanted by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bundesliga team Schalke, reports The Sun. 18-year-old centre-back has also been watched by Liverpool and Arsenal.

- The Mirror reports Aston Villa are leading the race to sign Rhian Brewster on loan in January. Brewster, 19, has been unable to break his way into Liverpool's Premier League plans this term. The report states Villa face competition from Crystal PalaceLeeds United and Swansea City.

Liverpool maintained their stunning start to the season – and eight-point lead at the summit – with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Jose Mourinho wasted little time in making his mark at Tottenham after he was brought in to replace Mauricio Pochettino, guiding the north London club to a 3-2 win over sorry rivals West Ham.

Manchester City, meanwhile, bounced back from their damaging 3-1 defeat to Liverpool before the international break with an entertaining 2-1 victory against Chelsea – a result which saw them leapfrog Frank Lampard's side into third.

The game of the weekend came on Sunday when Sheffield United and Manchester United played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane, with the visitors coming from two goals down to lead 3-2 before Oli McBurnie's late equaliser.

Here, we look at the best milestones and stats from another action-packed weekend of Premier League action.

RELENTLESS REDS MARCH ON AGAINST PALACE

Liverpool became only the fourth side in English top-flight history to have as many as 37 points from their opening 13 league games to a season after their slender win at Selhurst Park.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring shortly after half-time, which was perhaps unsurprising given his superb record against the Eagles. His deflected strike means he has now scored eight Premier League goals against Palace – more than against any other opponent.

It had looked like Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool would drop points for just the second time this season when Wilfried Zaha levelled with eight minutes remaining. That was the Ivorian's first goal in 14 Premier League games, ending a run of 1245 minutes without scoring.

Roberto Firmino had the final say, though, prodding home after a corner had caused chaos in the Palace penalty area. Since the start of last season, Liverpool have scored 38 goals from set-pieces in the Premier League (including penalties) – eight more than any other club.

The win takes the Reds' unbeaten run in the Premier League to 30 matches. Only Arsenal (49 games in October 2004) and Chelsea (40 in October 2005) have ever had longer runs without defeat in the history of the competition.

MOURINHO BACK WITH A BANG

Mourinho made a triumphant return to management as Tottenham saw off West Ham at the London Stadium.

Having lost his first ever competitive game as manager, with Benfica in September 2000, Mourinho has gone unbeaten in his first game in charge at each of his eight clubs since then.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid boss was indebted to star duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who scored other side of Lucas Moura's close-range effort.

Kane has now scored eight goals in his last nine Premier League games against the Hammers, while Son's strike means he is Spurs' leading scorer in all competitions in 2019 with 19 – one more than Kane.

GUARDIOLA SETS UNWANTED RECORD IN CITY WIN

City claimed a valuable Premier League victory over Chelsea on Saturday, despite recording the lowest share of possession any Pep Guardiola side has managed in a top-flight game.

City's possession figure of just 46.74 per cent is the lowest any team coached by Guardiola has registered in 381 top-flight matches.

N'Golo Kante gave Chelsea a 21st-minute lead but, remarkably, Lampard's side did not manage another shot on target for the remainder of the match.

City stormed back after that early setback to claim all three points thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian has now been directly involved in 10 goals in his 11 starts across all competitions this season, scoring four and creating six more.

BRAMALL LANE DRAMA LEAVES SOLSKJAER WITH MIXED EMOTIONS

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave his Manchester United players credit after they scored three goals in seven minutes to overturn a two-goal deficit against Sheffield United but condemned their display for the first hour at Bramall Lane.

Goals from John Fleck and Lys Mousset put the Blades in front and United have not kept a clean sheet on the road in the Premier League in their last 12 matches - their worst top-flight run since going 15 away games without a shutout between September 1985 and April 1986.

Fortunately for Solskjaer, his young charges rallied and Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood struck in quick succession to make it 2-2. The last time two teenagers scored in a Premier League game for United was in October 2005, when Wayne Rooney and Giuseppe Rossi netted against Sunderland.

Marcus Rashford's goal in the 79th minute put United on course for a win that did not transpire, but the England forward continued his good record against newly-promoted opponents - he has been involved in eight goals in his last five Premier League appearances against newcomers (four goals, four assists).

Pep Guardiola is eager for Fernandinho to remain in Manchester City's defence, even if the decision draws criticism.

Fernandinho has been used primarily as an emergency centre-back this season, with Aymeric Laporte out injured while John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have struggled with fitness and consistency issues.

The Brazil international has often looked City's most solid option at the back in Laporte's absence, despite the fact he is primarily a midfielder.

And Guardiola has no plans to alter Fernandinho's role if his other midfield options stay fit.

"If Rodri and Gundogan are fit, I don't think so. I like Fernandinho there, in that position [centre-back]. I like it," Guardiola told reporters when asked if he would move the 34-year-old back into the centre of the park.

"I know he can play there, but we have Gundogan, I trust him a lot, and Rodri.

"Since I arrived here we were looking for a holding midfielder in the first season. Fernandinho was good [against Chelsea] because we won.

"If we lose, he played s***, I know that, but we won. So at Anfield he was the best central defender we have there, but [apparently] it was a disaster. I know how it works, this job.

"He was incredible at Anfield, he was incredible [against Chelsea]. He is so fast, in our build-up he's perfect.

"It is important to be aggressive as the midfielder but to be quick with the ball and to find solutions in smaller spaces. Gundogan has that quality. That's why we look [at him] in other situations."

While City's injury problems have come mainly in defence so far this season, Guardiola harbours concerns over Sergio Aguero, who was forced off late on in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

However, Guardiola has no doubts Gabriel Jesus – who has scored five goals in all competitions this season – can fill the void should Aguero miss an extended period of time.

"Gabriel has made one of the best starts this season. If Sergio cannot play in the next games, we will see, Gabriel will be of course our option," Guardiola said.

"[Raheem] Sterling can play also in that position but Gabriel is going to play there of course."

Pep Guardiola has no doubt his Manchester City side will fight to the bitter end even if he concedes the Premier League title race may already be over.

City came from behind to claim a vital 2-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday, after unbeaten table-toppers Liverpool had temporarily moved 12 points clear of the defending champions thanks to a victory at Crystal Palace.

However, with the gap between Liverpool and the chasing pack – including second-placed Leicester City and fourth-placed Chelsea – already so large, Guardiola acknowledged the Reds may already have one hand on the trophy.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, though, insists he will never doubt his team's desire to fight for glory.

"The only pressure we can have is that we're going to lose the Premier League. Okay. That is the pressure. We're going to lose the Premier League," he said.

"It's not the first time Manchester City lose the Premier League. So, we're going to lose the Premier League, we're going to try the next season.

"We didn't give up last season and that's why we won again. Maybe we're going to lose, but this team never gives up. This team tries.

"It's far away, with these numbers Liverpool are unstoppable. But if you believe I am going to doubt my players because they didn't try, you are wrong.

"We would not have been able to do what we have done, 100 points, four titles, it never happened before and even this season we are there and you see the games. One, judge the result, but I try to judge performance, and I see every morning, every day my team and I don't have doubts we're going to try."

Guardiola's side have already lost three league matches this season, having only been beaten four times en route to the title last term.

But Guardiola believes it is ridiculous to expect City to be able to keep on improving on the levels they have shown in previous seasons.

"It looks like how we have won two Premier Leagues, we'd have to win seven Premier Leagues in a row and have to make 200 points every season," he said. 

"It doesn't work in that way at that high level. In tennis, players lose games. In golf, it's not always Tommy Fleetwood who wins the tournaments, I would like that, but it's not.

"How is our spirit after 1-0 down, the way we played in Anfield in every game, that is how I like to see my team. I would like to see us there, nine points, we are in November so wow, many games we have to play."

Guardiola also feels putting too much weight behind a defeat is a worrying trend for society at large.

"We did it for the last 24 months or more. If you win, you have a good spirit, good character, good everything. If you lose then it is done. So the line is so tight," he added.

"Winners and losers, that's all. I think for sport, it is a message to society, it's not good for our kids to show that just the winner is perfect.

"The importance is the commitment. All sports we want to win. But losing is not a disaster. That's why I said to the players, relax, do our job, we will see what happens."

Kevin De Bruyne sees himself as one of the leaders in Manchester City's squad, having helped to spark the comeback against Chelsea on Saturday.

De Bruyne scored City's equaliser as Pep Guardiola's side came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Etihad Stadium.

The victory takes the defending champions up to third place, one point behind high-flyers Leicester City but nine shy of leaders Liverpool.

Having missed much of last season through injury, De Bruyne has been in scintillating form this campaign, scoring three league goals and leading the way in the division with nine assists.

At 28, the Belgium playmaker – who signed for City in 2015 – now identifies himself as a guiding light for a team who saw Vincent Kompany return to Anderlecht this year and are set to see David Silva move on at the end of the season.

"I push myself [to be] the best I can be. If you set goals to be the best, you always push yourself hard," De Bruyne said.

"That's what I did when I was a teenager and that's what I'm doing now. It's a little bit more important that the team wins now, but I just work hard.

"The main thing is that I'm helping the team, I'm helping these guys, leading them, especially the younger guys. I know I can make a difference to them.

"I just push myself. There's nobody who puts more pressure on me than myself. It's not difficult for me to work hard and to push myself to the limit. Sometimes you have good games, some other times you don't, but even when you play average or bad, you still have to do your job and help the team.

"I'm a midfielder, so I'm there to help the team the best I can and make the team play good together. That's my main focus."

City's win followed on from a 3-1 defeat at Anfield prior to the international break – a result that already threatens to look pivotal in the title race given Liverpool's relentless run of results.

"We work really hard and the main thing, when you lose a game, is to come back with a good reaction," De Bruyne added.

"That's what we have always done over the last four or five years. I think it's very rare to see us lose two games in a row. We have a lot of quality to make the difference."

Frank Lampard put Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City down to the "finer details" and a moment of quality from Riyad Mahrez.

Chelsea took the lead through N'Golo Kante at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but the Premier League champions fought back - Kevin de Bruyne's deflected strike restoring parity before Mahrez slotted home at the culmination of a brilliant run.

Lampard's side had more possession than City, despite living dangerously at the back at times, and he believes moments in both boxes are ultimately what settled the contest in Pep Guardiola's favour.

"Coming into the game with our recent form and how we're developing quickly, recently, I wanted to come here and compete, be brave on and off the ball and I think in the first half you saw all of that," Lampard told a news conference.

"At 1-0 we had relative control of the game. It's clear that never lasts if you have one moment, which they had a couple of moments, but we were playing well and there's a lot of positives but we lost the game, so it shows at this level, the finer details in both boxes are what decide these ones.

"I don't think you can come away from this game and say anything other than two really strong teams going against each other and one wins it because of a deflected goal and a real moment of quality from Mahrez and the rest is pretty much in the balance."

Chelsea headed into the fixture on the back of six straight Premier League victories, though the Blues are yet to beat any of the established "big six" Premier League sides under Lampard.

They have lost twice to Manchester United - on the opening day of the season and in the EFL Cup - while also going down to Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup and in the Premier League.

Lampard, though, insists all of the defeats have not been down to Chelsea's style of play or the inexperience of his youthful side.

"Everyone seems fixated on these couple of games we've played," Lampard said.

"We went toe-to-toe with Liverpool in Istanbul, lost on penalties. Lost at home in the league, pushing for 45 minutes and we've lost today with a very good performance.

"It's moments in the boxes, it's not something that you can put down to being a rule of going into a game why you'd win it or why you don't.

"These teams, Liverpool and City, have been getting results for a long time because they work together, work hard and those finer details they get right."

Frank Lampard believes Chelsea have demonstrated they are on track to close the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League.

Chelsea opened the scoring against City on Saturday, but the defending champions - who are nine points shy of current leaders Liverpool - came back to win 2-1.

The defeat ends a six-match winning run for fourth-placed Chelsea in the league, though Lampard has no doubt his side demonstrated they have enough quality to challenge the leading teams in the competition.

"Some big parts were good, some bits we can improve on. That's why there's a gap, that's why there was a gap last year of however many points, that's what City and Liverpool have done," Lampard told Sky Sports.

"I think we went toe to toe in the main. A moment of quality from Mahrez and a deflection for the first goal feels like the difference, for me.

"There was a lot of detail in the game, but I feel like we didn't have that bit of quality that we can have. Games like this can be won or lost in the boxes - and I think it was [the case].

"We're coming to close the gap. I don't want to shout that too loudly because football is day to day, week to week.

"Now we have to show our response to a defeat after a great run of wins, it feels like a long time since we lost a game in the league, so now we need to go and straight away get back on it, because I do feel like there were bits of that game that show that we're coming.

"Of course we're in the early stages, we're three or four months in, we're a team that we're strong last year anyway but some of our players were playing in the Championship last season and there's a bit of a transitional feel to it.

"I feel if we keep working then we will be coming."

City won despite posting a possession figure of 46.74 per cent, according to official Opta data, the lowest figure any Guardiola side has registered in 381 top-flight games.

"It's how we try and play. You can never be comfortable, they had a few good opportunities early on, but so did we," Lampard added of his team's style.

"I think maybe we got a little bit sloppy in fact, gave them a chance. Good teams, great teams, work to earn their luck. We're in that process. We need to work to make sure that goes in our favour.

"I felt for big parts of the game, in terms of possession we had more and caused a lot of problems behind their midfield line, but then there were times when we were sloppy trying to pass it between our centre-halves, trying to get our full-backs involved.

"They pressed well, they're very well organised. They made it hard for us and there's details in our own game to push a bit more."

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