Pep Guardiola admits his Manchester City side cannot afford to lose any more games if they are to defend their Premier League title.
The champions are currently third and trail leaders Liverpool by nine points after 13 games.
Guardiola insists he is not setting targets but he recognises any more slip-ups could be very costly.
The City boss said: “I am not thinking how many games we have to win. I know we cannot lose games but I’m not thinking about winning the Premier League right now.
“I never thought about it the years when we won. Of course it is on our minds but I don’t think what we have to do to win the Premier League.
“We have to get close to Leicester first of all and then, after that, Liverpool. The target, when you play every three days, is the next one. You choose the best players for each specific game and try to win.”
Guardiola feared City had suffered a terminal blow to their title ambitions last season when they were beaten at Newcastle in January.
They responded by winning their next 14 games to pip Liverpool to the crown by a point.
City return to the scene of that defeat as they face the Magpies, now managed by Steve Bruce, at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Guardiola said: “It was 12 months ago, so it’s forgotten. We played slow, we didn’t attack, after 1-0 we forgot to attack, but analysing every defeat or victory from 12 months ago makes no sense.
“We’ve learned from that, obviously, and spoken about it. We came to terms with it.
“We can have a bad afternoon, we cannot escape that, but it wasn’t the way we are. We can lose games but we have to be ourselves. Everyone understood that and we made a step forward.”
Ballin’ with my bros! ⚽️— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 27, 2019
City have lost three times already this season and Guardiola is wary of Newcastle’s threat, even though they have won just four of their 13 games this term.
Guardiola said: “It was a bit turbulent in the beginning with the (change of) managers but they got results. I think they are a team to stay in the Premier League.
“They’re so strong, so fast up front with (Miguel) Almiron, (Allan) Saint-Maximin and Joelinton. Their structure is similar to it was with Rafa Benitez. Always difficult.”
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