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Pep Guardiola: Man City have helped Liverpool step up their game

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are paying the price for having raised the bar in how many points it takes to win the English Premier League.

Guardiola's men have won the title in the past two seasons with record tallies of 100 and 98 points, but are 17 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool ahead of this morning's (Singapore time) visit to Arsenal.

"I didn't want to think it too much in the beginning of the season, but I thought will we be able to do it again?" Guardiola admitted in his pre-match press conference.

"When we arrived here, the standard was 85 points to win.

"Now you have to reach almost 100 points to win the Premier League.

"That is why we helped Liverpool to make this step, buy incredible top players. And now it is the level you have to reach.

"All the teams that are behind Liverpool, we know we have to make 100 points."

City denied Liverpool the title last season by winning their last 14 league games to become the first side to retain the EPL in a decade.

Four league defeats this season have led to much criticism of City's succession planning for the loss of captain Vincent Kompany and Guardiola's inability to patch up a makeshift defence.

However, the Catalan coach insists it is normal for his side to have a brief drop in standards after such a sustained period of success.

Said Guardiola: "Eleven years no one won back-to-back and then we did it, by winning 14 games in a row.

"That is why when people say we are not good, I cannot forget what this team has done, but sometimes it is a process.

"In NBA teams, in incredible tennis players, there are problems or periods in the season when you struggle a little bit.

"I would say that is normal, that the people can expect it.

"That is going to help us, the situation we are in is going to help us in the future."

Guardiola did, however, admit that after a clean sweep of domestic silverware last season, some measure of complacency may have cost City and warned his players they must prove he can count on them for next season.

He said: "Maybe we believe something we are not and reality of sport is to make you (prove yourself) again and again and again... You have to evaluate if... the players good enough to try again next season?" - AFP