Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has insisted that his side completing an entire Premier League season unbeaten "is not going to happen" following their goalless draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.
In the penultimate English top-flight fixture of 2017, the Citizens were eyeing a European record-equaling victory, but the north west giants struggled to find their way through a dogged Eagles defense and could well have left Selhurst Park with nothing.
The hosts had the best opportunity of the clash in second-half stoppage time as visitors substitute Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have bundled Wilfried Zaha to the ground inside the area, leaving Luka Milivojevic the chance to end the champions elect's current undefeated run from the spot.
But the Serbian's attempt mirrored that of Christian Benteke's woeful spot kick earlier in December, allowing City custodian Ederson to rescue his side and help maintain their almost perfect campaign.
Only one side previously have achieved a full term without tasting defeat, Arsenal's 'Invincibles' back in 2003/04, and despite his side coming as close to a Premier League defeat as they have all season on Sunday, yet surviving, Guardiola is adamant the Gunners will maintain their record come May.
“That is not going to happen”, the Catalan told his post-match press conference, as quoted by The Independent.
“I am not thinking to be unbeaten. Maybe Arsene is worried about that but I tell him many times ‘2004, that run is for him.’
“Today is completely different to 2004. Here are now more strong teams, a lot of competitions, a lot of games. That is not going to happen. I try to win the game and especially focus on Watford.”
While Guardiola expressed relief at the penalty save, and revealed he did not believe Zaha's rather soft crumple to the floor under the challenge of Sterling was a dive, the 46-year-old said the Premier League's intensity means such incidents are inevitable and is also a significant factor in why his side will not remain unbeaten.
“It was a good save in the last minute. They had another chance when Zaha crossed and Townsend hit it over”, he added.
“We missed the last action but it is normal in a period of a lot of games, in the period where we are. People start to be tired.
“I have said many times we are going to lose games. We cannot stay in four competitions winning every three days at that intensity.
“We have problems with [Benjamin] Mendy and other injuries. John Stones was six weeks out. We recover well and try to keep mentally strong.
“We dropped two points today but we could have dropped against Huddersfield or Southampton. 18 wins in a row, that is not normal, unreal.
“We have set a new record in the Premier League. For the next team, that is what they have to beat. It will not be easy.
“We are in December and there are lot of fixtures to play. We need to play every game like we have in the past.”