Leicester - Pep Guardiola refused to concede Manchester City's Premier League
title defence was over and urged his side to respond from a third defeat
in their last four Premier League games after losing 2-1 at Leicester.
for Leicester from Marc Albrighton and Ricardo Pereira saw Guardiola's
men slip seven points behind league leaders Liverpool and down into
third in the table behind Tottenham.
Yet Guardiola saluted the
performance of his players so far this season and tipped them to remain
in the title race with Liverpool, who City host on January 3, and Spurs
if they match the number of points they have accrued in the first half
of the season.
"Today we have finished the first half of the season and we have an incredible amount of points," said Guardiola.
a normal situation we are fighting to be champions. If we make the same
number of points in the second part of the season we are fighting to
win the Premier League.
"But the reality is there are another two teams and they are better."
admitted, however, that his side's confidence had been dented by defeat
at Chelsea in early December followed by back-to-back losses against
Crystal Palace and Leicester.
"Good results make miracles in the mind," he said.
the game is in the mind. We are the same ones, we practise the little
details the same as we have done during three years together.
"So now there will be doubts but what we have to do is try to change the dynamic to win games and make good performances.
we are able to do that. I never doubt them. With the joy and pleasure
in how many things they have done in the recent past - not a long time
ago - I will never doubt them.
"I have to reflect and think about what the team needs and how to help them."
had gotten off to the perfect start when Sergio Aguero on his return to
the starting line-up for the first time in a month teed up Bernardo
Silva to open the scoring.
However, Albrighton quickly levelled
and for all of City's possession, it was Ricardo who produced the one
moment of quality with a rising drive into the far corner nine minutes
"Seven points to Liverpool is starting to be a lot. We
are not playing as well as we want at this part of the season. We have
to find an explanation," said Silva.
"We have lost two games that
we shouldn't do if we are in a race for the title. There are a lot of
games left and it's mathematically possible but we have to be almost
perfect from now."
A bad day for City was compounded by a late red
card shown to Fabian Delph for a high follow-through on Ricardo after
he had successfully won the ball.
The England international now
faces a three-match suspension at a time when City are short of options
at left-back, where the midfielder has again been deputising for the
injured Benjamin Mendy.
"I'm pretty sure he touched the ball," said Guardiola. "But it was a red card and we have to accept that."
Claude Puel saw his Leicester side beat the defending champions just five days after also stunning Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
the Frenchman insisted those six points helped justify his
heavily-criticised team selection in a League Cup quarter-final loss on
penalties to City just eight days ago.
"People sometimes don't understand why we rotate," said Puel, whose side move up to seventh.
"You can't keep a high level keeping the same team every three days.
"It was possible here because we rotated in the cup game.