By Andy Hampson, PA
Manchester City have ground to make up as they resume their Premier League title defence with a trip to Leeds on Wednesday.
The champions went into the World Cup break trailing leaders Arsenal by five points – a gap that has increased to eight following the Gunners’ Boxing Day win over West Ham.
City returned to action with an upbeat performance in a 3-2 win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup last week and now hope to maintain the momentum.
“We have to hit the ground running,” forward Riyad Mahrez told the club’s website. “We are not currently top of the Premier League and that is where we want to be.
“We will take it game by game but our aim to try to win another title.
“There are lots of strong teams in England who could still win the league so we are not just focused on Arsenal, although they have been very good so far.
“If we want to win the league, we will have to be ready as soon as the league starts again.”
City were beaten by Brentford in their last Premier League outing six weeks ago but remain title favourites despite Arsenal’s strong position.
Feels good to be back @ManCity pic.twitter.com/iTXNvciVhp
— Nathan Aké (@NathanAke) December 20, 2022
Defender Nathan Ake feels the run-out and victory against Liverpool were just what the team needed to get moving in their quest to haul in Arsenal.
The Netherlands international said: “We’re going to do everything to challenge them. They’re doing really well this season but we’ve started off well since coming back now.
“This team is incredible. We have amazing players and the changing room is so good. It’s nice to be back and we managed to win, which makes it better. Hopefully we kick on with the season from now.”