Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his side will be ready to pounce if Premier League leaders Chelsea falter following their impressive 2-1 comeback victory over title rivals Arsenal.
Chelsea have streaked clear at the summit thanks to a storming run of 11 consecutive victories.
City trail Antonio Conte’s side by seven points, having climbed to second place by coming from behind to beat Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and Guardiola says the leaders are in their sights.
Asked if the win, secured by second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, would give City a psychological boost, Guardiola nodded and replied: “A lot.
“Seven points is a huge distance and when a team can make 11 victories in a row, you just can say congratulations.
“But at least to be there as much possible, and waiting if the opponent fails sometimes, and waiting until the last part of the season to be there, to fight for the title.”
Since Guardiola’s arrival in England, following stellar stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, there has been huge interest in whether his passing principles will prevail in the pell-mell Premier League.
The City manager triggered his team’s comeback by moving Kevin De Bruyne up front at halftime and switching Sterling to the right flank, but he played down the significance of the decision.
“Because we won, now the trainer is a genius!” said Guardiola, who faced criticism following recent one-sided losses to Chelsea and Leicester City.
Guardiola said he had apologised to John Stones after benching the centre-back, a £47.5 million ($59.3 million, 56.8 million euros) recruit from Everton, for the second game running.
But he hailed Yaya Toure, who has become an increasingly vital cog in City’s midfield despite Guardiola initially freezing him out.
Asked if Toure’s form might earn the 33-year-old an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the season, Guardiola replied: “No answer to that question.
“I know he finishes his contract. Now we have time to discuss about that. What I am impressed most (by) is his huge quality.
“He looks like a boy. He played awesome. It is not in terms of when he has the ball, it’s the personality.
“When we are in trouble, he goes there, asks for the ball, pass, pass. When Yaya plays at that level, because he is fit and focused, he is an exceptional, exceptional player.”