Pep Guardiola calls Manchester City’s defeat to Chelsea a ‘good lesson’

• Guardiola praises his players after unbeaten run is ended
• City manager denies that Liverpool are now title favourites

Pep Guardiola described Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat of the season as a “lesson” and feels his players must take on board the manner of the setback they suffered at Stamford Bridge if they are to not only retain their title but also win the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

Goals from N’Golo Kanté and David Luiz were enough for Chelsea to beat City for the first time in four attempts and saw the visitors drop to second place following Liverpool’s 4-0 victory at Bournemouth earlier in the day. Jürgen Klopp’s side now lead their rivals by a point with the sides to meet in what could be a pivotal encounter at the Etihad Stadium on 3 January.

Speaking after this loss, which was not only City’s first of the campaign but also first in 22 league games stretching back to April, Guardiola was in typically effusive mood regarding the performance of his side, and in particular the manner in which they dominated the first half with characteristic aggression and panache.

However, they were undone on the counterattack just before the interval and conceded again on 78 minutes via a corner, leading to the manager warning his side against complacency as they look to make their mark at home and in Europe this season.

“The first eight, 10 minutes of the second half they [Chelsea] were better than us, but after that and in the first half we were fantastic. It’s a joy for me as a manager to watch my players,” Guardiola said. “We stayed high, regained a lot of balls, attacked and created enough chances to score one or two in the first half, unfortunately it didn’t happen. But that is a good lesson.

“That is the level of the Champions League. People say Manchester City is favourite for the Champions League but this is the [level of the] Champions League – they [Chelsea] had one chance and scored one goal. The opponents are so good, so clever. That is what’s going to happen in the future in the bigger stages.”

Guardiola, who deployed Raheem Sterling as a central attacker in light of Sergio Agüero’s absence through injury, rejected suggestions that Liverpool are now favourites to win the title – “because they’re one point in front? Yesterday we were the favourites. In 24 hours it’s changed. Why?” – as well as playing down the significance of City no longer being able to repeat Arsenal’s 2004 feat of going through a season unbeaten. “We’re not here to be invincibles,” he said. “We’re here to be champions.”

Maurizio Sarri admitted his side were somewhat fortunate to overcome City but was nevertheless proud of the character his players showed having questioned their attitude following the 2-1 loss at Wolves in midweek.

“In the end we deserved to win,” said the Italian, who also made a tactical switch up front by deploying Eden Hazard as a central attacker. “We are really pleased but we have a team with some difficulties to be motivated. In this kind of match it’s very easy to have great motivation and determination. We need continuity in motivation and determination otherwise we can win this kind of match and lose points in another match.”