Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the battle to be crowned Premier League champions may not be decided until the final day of the season.
After a series of dramatic twists and turns in what has become a thrilling battle for supremacy, City have the chance to go top of the table for the first time since mid-December if we win at Everton tomorrow night.
With 13 league games remaining, the Blues currently lie in second place, three points behind leaders Liverpool but with a superior goal difference while third placed-Tottenham are a further two points adrift.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Goodison Park, Guardiola said his experience of close title battles in Spain, while he was in charge of Barcelona, made him convinced this season’s title race would also go down to the wire.
Asked if he felt there were similarities with his time in charge at Barcelona when the Catalan side pipped Real Madrid to the La Liga title by three and four points respectively in 2010 and 2011, Pep replied: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure the winner will be in the last fixture or last two.
“In some point there's a problem for the fact there are so many games and the mental effort (it takes) to be consistent.
“When you lose one day you can lose the competition so that means a lot of stress.
“This month is terrible in terms of every game is (like) a final so we will have to wait but it’s nice to still be there and (it) shows me their consistency.
“You cannot (escape football and have a day off). It’s not allowed. You have to have your attention because it’s in a period when there are knockout games. It’s normal and a real test and challenge.
“I don't know how far we will get it and if someone is better (than us) then we will accept it. We are privileged to be in this position (in all four competitions).
“Never give up and focus on what we have to do, that’s the best lesson we have learnt over the past few weeks.”
The City manager also spoke about the physical and mental demands of coping with a packed February schedule, given that the Blues are still striving for success on four fronts.
City face the prospect of playing seven times in just 28 days this month with the Club involved in key Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup fixtures during the month, along with the Carabao Cup final.
“Before I came here, people spoke about Christmas and the Boxing Day period being bad, but January/February is worse!” Pep added.
“February is tougher than December. We have to prepare for Chelsea in three days and they have had all week! It is what it is.
“I’d prefer to be in that position and go forward though."