Pep Guardiola: Manchester City's defeat to Basel was a warning
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's midweek defeat to Basel was a warning as they try to wrap up a Premier League title and compete for the Champions League.
City were surprisingly beaten at home by the Swiss champions on Wednesday night -- just their fourth defeat all season -- although they made it safely through to the quarterfinals 5-2 on aggregate.
They need 12 points to be certain of the Premier League but Guardiola is taking nothing for granted ahead of Monday night's visit to relegation-threatened Stoke City.
"We are not the champions. The champions are still Chelsea. We have to get the points as soon as possible, knowing that we have the opportunity," he told a news conference. "But what happens in the quarterfinals, depends on our level in the Premier League. That's why we have to be focused on what we have to do.
"I know everyone wants to anticipate the situation and what will happen. Everyone is thinking about when we will win the title. The best example was two days ago. Nobody thought we could lose against Basel and we lost against Basel. We need to be relaxed, stay calm and think about Stoke City."
Guardiola will have a clearer picture of the title race after Saturday's lunchtime clash between nearest rivals Manchester United and Liverpool.
The first team have a training session before the game kicks off at Old Trafford and Guardiola will watch the game with his staff, particularly with a game against United in April that could potentially become a title-clincher.
"We are going to see the game between Liverpool and Manchester United as a spectator and it would have happened in the distance was smaller. It's a big game and always we are delighted to watch it." he added.
"It's a big derby, it's a classic in England. United-Liverpool is one of the most exciting games by far. The history of both teams is amazing, in the '80s, '90s.
"We have a training session, and then after the training session, we start the game. Of course, it's a big game, and normally the big games we like to watch. In a few weeks we have a game against United, so that's why we are going to look at that game, sure."
Guardiola is at least close to full strength with Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho back in training while Fabian Delph is eligible again after suspension. However, the left-back missed the midweek game with a slight muscle injury and could be given extra time to recover.
His squad will head out to Abu Dhabi after the Stoke match for a warm-weather training camp before the majority of his squad head out on international duty.
"After we will go to train in Abu Dhabi and after the international break the players will come back safe without injuries, hopefully, and then we can think about Everton and the quarterfinals [of the Champions League]," Guardiola said.
"Instead of being here where we have been fighting for 10 months or eight months with the weather, we will go there and train the same way but in better conditions.
"And we will see our chairman and be there. We did it last season and we will prepare for the last two months of the season."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.