Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City stars they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they want to remain in the title race.
Although City have a game in hand, Guardiola acknowledged his side, who have drawn their last two games, need to put together a winning run to climb the table.
“We know we have to start to win games and games,” said Guardiola, whose side have lost two and drawn five of their 12 league games.
“If not, it will not be possible. We know it. But it’s not about the distance.
“It’s about what Liverpool is able to do, what Tottenham, what Southampton can do – there are eight teams in front of us.
“We have a game less, but you have to win it. Maybe we have played this game less, but we are not able to win it.
“So we have to start to win games in a row, to be there at the end, or it will not be possible.”
Guardiola conceded City are struggling for goals, with the Blues having scored just 18 in the league this season, compared to 35 at the same stage last year.
Star striker Sergio Aguero remains injury-prone and unreliable, while Gabriel Jesus has failed to score in his last seven games for City in all competitions.
Despite that, Guardiola said he will not go into the market for a striker in next month’s transfer window, but will remind all of his players of their obligation to score.
“We have to insist, insist and insist,” said Guardiola. “There’s no other way – 26 shots [the amount City had in their 1-1 draw with West Brom] is not enough – we need to create more.
“We have to be positive and one day it will break. When we’re able to score goals and win games, the confidence will be back.
“Last season we were the team who scored most, more than the champions, but unfortunately we conceded too much.
“We have to score more and everyone knows it.”
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Asked if the solution could be a new striker, Guardiola said: “Absolutely not. Okay, the last 32 or 33 games we played, Sergio could play just four or five, so not much, but Gabriel has incredible numbers.
“The statistics, for minutes and goals scored in the Premier League since he came here, he’s one of the best, the top three or four.
“So he’s a guy who scores goals, but it cannot just depend on their shoulders.
“We took 15 corners in the last game, and central defenders can score goals – everyone can score goals.”
Asked if Aguero will be fit to start against Southampton, Guardiola sounded doubtful. “I don’t know,” said the City boss.
“After the game, he couldn’t train. Yesterday, no training, today he trained really well, but I don’t know how many minutes he can play.
“It’s important he makes training sessions, but after the game he couldn’t. It wasn’t the knee, it was another area.”