Pep Guardiola: Manchester City not getting carried away after strong start
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola says it is easy to keep his Manchester City players focused because they know there is a long way to go in the season.
City moved clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 5-0 win over Crystal Palace and they can make a significant step toward qualifying for the Champions League round-of-16 with a win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.
However, Guardiola says his side will not get over-excited by their impressive start, particularly after their season fell away last season despite winning their opening 10 matches.
"It is better to be in this position but it's just September -- there's a long time, a lot of games still to play," the City boss told a news conference. "The last years Manchester City have always started good and after were not able to achieve the results. We go game-by-game and focus on all competitions.
"All we have to do is keep going -- that is the secret. We are professionals and all the players are here to win games. You win and their private lives and professional lives are better."
City defender Kyle Walker says the manager is pushing them to keep improving and will not allow them to take their foot off the pedal.
The England international, who moved from Tottenham in the summer in a £45million, says the pressure from a strong squad is keeping the players on their toes and that if standards slip, they will be out of the side.
"It's a good motivation to have, knowing how good a manager he is," the 27-year-old said. "Hopefully we can just keep performing.
"He always still wants more from us and that's good to keep pushing us. If we keep doing the basics right, and performing at the level we're performing at, then hopefully we will be a force that will not be stopped.
"[Pep] is improving me as a player. I need to keep training hard, keep working on the things I need to improve on so I get that sharpness.
"It is a good dressing room to be around. We all expect high standards from each other."
Captain Vincent Kompany is still not fit to return for the game at the Etihad with a calf strain while Ilkay Gundogan is also out but is back in training after his knee injury scare against West Brom last week. Defender Benjamin Mendy faces a late test after picking up a kick on his knee in the win over Palace at the weekend.
Both City and Shakhtar won their opening Group F games with the Ukrainian champions beating Italian league leaders Napoli two weeks ago.
Guardiola said they cannot take Shakhtar lightly and that it is strong group with Dutch champions Feyenoord also in the mix.
"In Barcelona all the time it was the same: Shakhtar, Ukraine, who cares which players play -- nobody knows them? I can assure you it was one of the best teams in terms of playing football," he added.
"They had five or six Brazilians and it was always was so tough for me. They beat one of the best teams in Napoli. Napoli are one of the three or four or five best teams, playing football, they are leading the Italian league -- and they beat them.
"This group is tricky. People say: 'Napoli -- it's not Milan or Juventus; Shakhtar, it's Ukraine.' [Win our] next two games at home and we can take a big step towards the knockout round."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.