*

upload_article_image

City opens up 13-point lead in EPL with 1-0 win over Chelsea

For Pep Guardiola, the biggest challenge now will be convincing his Manchester City players the English Premier League title race is not over.

“My job is to take it out from the brain and heads of my players,” Guardiola said after City beat nearest rival Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday. “To try not to believe what other people are going to say.”

With City holding a 13-point lead, it's hardly surprising that people have already basically handed Guardiola's relentless team a sixth title in 11 seasons.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, left, gets past Chelsea's N'Golo Kante on his way to scoring the opening goal during an English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoDave Thompson)

After all, the defending champions are on a 12-match winning run in the league after Kevin De Bruyne's brilliant curling strike in the 70th minute sealed victory at Etihad Stadium. City has lost two games all season — it would have to lose at least three of its remaining 16 matches to drop out of first place — and already has played all of the top teams away from home.

Liverpool, in third place 14 points behind having played two games fewer, looks to be the only team realistically capable of stopping City. Even that is improbable, given City's form and pedigree.

Chelsea was well beaten even if Thomas Tuchel's team didn't give up many chances against City, which dominated possession and kept the visitors penned in their own half for much of the match.

Chelsea's head coach Thomas Tuchel points during an English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoDave Thompson)

“We won’t give up,” Tuchel said, "but if City keep on winning every game, nobody can catch them.”

Liverpool will look to trim the gap to City by beating Brentford at home on Sunday.

At the other end of the standings, Norwich climbed out of last place with a 2-1 win over Everton, whose supporters’ frustrations with manager Rafa Benitez appear to be boiling over. One fan ran onto the field in the first half at Carrow Road and was making his way toward Benitez before he got stopped by stewards.

Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, left, tries to block a cross by Manchester City's Bernardo Silva during an English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (AP PhotoDave Thompson)

Newcastle stayed in the relegation zone after conceding an 88th-minute goal to draw at home to Watford 1-1 and remain with just one win.

Wolverhampton defeated Southampton 3-1 in other match and jumped to eighth.

Aston Villa hosted Manchester United in the late game.

Norwich City's Adam Idah celebrates an own goal by Everton's Michael Keane during the English Premier League soccer match between Norwich City and Everton at Carrow Road, Norwich, England, Saturday Jan. 15, 2022. (Joe GiddensPA via AP)

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

Watford's Samir, left and Newcastle United's Chris Wood battle for the ball, during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Watford at St James' Park,in Newcastle, England, Saturday Jan. 15, 2022. (Owen HumphreysPA via AP)