Pep Guardiola has cast doubt over whether Manchester City can catch Arsenal at the top of the Premier League, as his side prepare for a trip to Chelsea this week.

The champions will face the Blues in back-to-back games across both the top-flight and the FA Cup, but with their title charge this season blunted by the emergence of a surprise threat.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners are clear and away at the summit, and although a draw against fellow top four side Newcastle saw them drop points, they still have plenty of daylight between them and City.

Guardiola knows this, and speaking ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge, acknowledged his team will have a tough task chasing their rivals down.

“We have to reduce the gap by playing good and winning games,” he added. “But they will get more than 100 points if they keep up this average and we will not catch them.

“We have to be almost perfect and hope they drop points. They were still excellent (against Newcastle).

“It’s the Premier League. They’re all tough,” he added. “They’re a tough side, well managed. It doesn’t matter what position you are in – when you go to Stamford Bridge it is always difficult.”

Opposite number Graham Potter has meanwhile seen his Blues take a nosedive after the honeymoon period, but he is still confident they can offer a serious threat against the Citizens.

“We have to play well ourselves – that is the key,” he added. “Then you have to understand the quality they have and try to stop it. It sounds simple when you condense it down, but the reality isn’t so straightforward.

“They are a top team, but we can cause them a problem. We can be ourselves and try to play well and put them under pressure. We need to use Stamford Bridge and then see what happens.

“We have to think about ourselves – how we can do better, how we can take steps forward in our game. That is the approach we’ll have.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chelsea – Raheem Sterling

The England international scored 91 goals in 225 Premier League appearances for Manchester City between 2015 and 2022. Before he joined the club, he was involved in four goals in his last four appearances against the Citizens in the Premier League, with a goal and three assists for Liverpool.

Man City – Erling Haaland

The Norwegian has seven goals in six away Premier League appearances so far, netting twice in London against West Ham. Only two players have scored more than one goal in their first two away Premier League games in London – Norwich’s Mark Robins in 1992 and Swansea’s Michu in 2012.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League home games against Man City – only against Blackburn (1993-94 to 1995-96) and Arsenal (2020-21 to 2022-23) have they lost three in a row at Stamford Bridge.

– Manchester City did the Premier League double over Chelsea last season – only once have they won three in a row against the Blues in the competition (December 2009 to September 2010).

– Manchester City have won seven of their last 10 Premier League games against Chelsea (L3), as many as they had in their previous 25 against the Blues (D4 L14).

– Pep Guardiola has lost just seven of his 34 Premier League games in London as Man City manager (W22 D5), with these seven defeats coming against either Chelsea (3) or Tottenham Hotspur (4).

– Manchester City have won their first Premier League game in each of the last 10 calendar years, since a 1-0 loss at Sunderland in 2012. Their first league game in each of the last two years has come in London (3-1 vs Chelsea in 2021, 2-1 vs Arsenal in 2022).