Defeat against Manchester United in the derby last weekend, combined with Arsenal‘s north London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur, means that the Citizens are currently eight points behind the Gunners in the title race.
Erling Haaland has not looked nearly as prolific since the World Cup ended, with the Norweigian failing to score in each of his last three appearances, while a once-strong defence now looks susceptible, with clean sheets only coming in consecutive games against Chelsea.
This could be down to the absence of both Ruben Dias and John Stones, with the former picking up an injury at the World Cup which has ruled him out of all subsequent action, while the latter out of action since his superb display at Stamford Bridge earlier this month.
Fortunately for Guardiola, it seems as if both players are now pushing to start against Spurs on Thursday evening, as the club confirmed on Tuesday that they were back in training.
Although Spurs have been something of a bogey side for Guardiola in recent seasons, three points must be considered a must at the Etihad this week, especially as Arsenal face an in-form Man United side at the weekend.
The return of two arguably world-class defenders in Stones and Dias is likely to give the Citizens a significant boost and hopefully get them back to their best after some questionable recent defensive displays.
If their return can inspire City to three points against Spurs this week then suddenly the gap closes to just five points, with two fixtures against Mikel Arteta’s side still to come, which emphasises that the title race is far from over.
Considering WhoScored ranks Dias and Stones as the top-performing centre-backs in Guardiola’s side so far this campaign, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them resume a partnership in the defence in upcoming fixtures, which could subsequently see the Citizens rediscover the sort of form needed to win the title this term.