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Monday 10 December 2018

'City will get even better'

Mahrez insists scare at Watford will make Pep's side stronger

MAIN MAN: Riyad Mahrez insists Manchester City will keep their full focus on reclaiming the Premier League title. Pic: Reuters
MAIN MAN: Riyad Mahrez insists Manchester City will keep their full focus on reclaiming the Premier League title. Pic: Reuters

Riyad Mahrez has warned that Manchester City will return stronger from their scare at Watford, but insists any of the top-four teams can still beat them to the Premier League title.

City, who face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, extended their unbeaten run on Tuesday after Leroy Sane and Mahrez struck either side of half-time at Vicarage Road.

But the champions were given a fright in the concluding stages when Abdoulaye Doucoure bundled over from close range with just five minutes remaining.

Despite facing a nervous end as Watford went in search of what, for most of the match seemed an unlikely point, Pep Guardiola's side held firm to claim their seventh consecutive league victory.

The City squad will now be given today off ahead of their trip to west London this coming weekend, yet despite their healthy advantage, Mahrez believes Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, as well as their closest rivals, Liverpool, remain in title contention.

"Anyone in the top four can still win the league," said Mahrez. "Nothing is done and we need to keep working very hard for each other and try to win every game.

"Now we need to focus every three days, and we need to be ready and at our top.

"You are not going to win every game 4-0 or 5-0, and going through these types of games makes you stronger.

"We created more chances and tried to kill the game but in football when you are 2-0 up and the opposition scores, the crowd get behind them and it's difficult, so we were very happy to win and get the three points."

Meanwhile, Guardiola said City were made to suffer after they survived a late scare to beat Watford and extend their lead at the Premier League summit.

"We had the chances to kill the game and score a third, and maybe a fourth but we missed them," said Guardiola.

"In the first half they had one clear chance, but we had many, and then we had three or four more chances after we went 2-0 ahead. Then, we started to lose balls and let them have an opportunity to get back into it.

"In this league, you have to score the third goal and we didn't do that, so that's why we suffered near the end."

City's victory was played out against the backdrop of off-the-pitch allegations that they have flouted Financial Fair Play rules, but Guardiola insisted he will welcome any investigation.

"UEFA is doing what it is doing," he said. "And if it finds something, the club will make a statement, and I would like that, because we know we are going to finish with these voices. If we did something irregular, we will know it. If we didn't do something irregular, the people can stop talking about it. I trust a lot in my club, in our organisation. If something is wrong, they're going to tell us."

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