Pep Guardiola accepts Manchester City are “close” to securing the Premier League title, but stresses it is not “done” despite his side requiring only five more victories.
Guardiola’s men tore Arsenal apart with a 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday to restore a 16-point cushion at the top of the table.
City battered Arsenal by the same scoreline in Sunday’s EFL Cup final at Wembley to give Guardiola his first trophy since joining the club in 2016.
The Premier League title is almost certain to follow, but Guardiola is not ready to celebrate yet.
“We are close, we cannot deny that,” the Catalan told Sky Sports.
“But it is not done. When you think it is done, it is not done
“It is in our hands – the most important thing is it depends on us and we have to close it out.”
While City are within touching distance of the title, they face what Guardiola has described as a “terrible” run of fixtures, starting with a home game against Chelsea on Sunday.
Last season’s Premier League winners have made a poor title defence, sitting 22 points behind City in fifth, in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification.
“Right now, as we sit here, they are the champions,” Guardiola said. “We want to take this crown but, not too long ago, they made amazing things.
“They can do it again. They have the same manager, almost the same players. They work all week preparing for the game, so it is another challenge.”
Chelsea have lost their last three away games in all competitions, piling pressure on under-fire Antonio Conte and Guardiola sympathises with the Italian’s situation.
“I felt the same last season,” he said. “All the managers know, when we are in the top, everybody has big words and says how good you are, you are a genius, you are something special.
“When you lose, then people say ‘What are you doing here?’, ‘the players don’t follow you’, ‘you have problems with the board’!”
Leroy Sane was unplayable against Arsenal, involved in creating goals for Bernardo Silva and David Silva before scoring City’s third himself, and the Germany international echoed Guardiola’s call for City to avoid complacency.
“Five games is close but we have to go step by step,” said Sane. “On Sunday we have the next big game and it will be tough against Chelsea.
“We try to make a lot of pressure for ourselves. The thinking is not to relax in games because we’re so far ahead of second place. We want to win the Premier League as soon as possible.
“The whole team is really professional. We all talk about it and the backroom staff tell us we have to go game by game. It helps if we win the previous game, especially if it is a big game because it gives us confidence to keep going.”