Despite Chelsea's storming start to the Premier League season, Manchester City man Pablo Zabaleta insists the fight for the title is not yet a two-horse race.
City currently trail Jose Mourinho's side by five points, with Southampton the surprise package in third place, but Zabaleta has refused to rule out any other team from making a surge for the top.
The reigning champions can take heart in the fact they've taken five points from home games against Chelsea and Liverpool and a trip to Arsenal, although they'll be disappointed to have suffered defeat at home to Stoke City.
Elsewhere, Manchester United find themselves in fourth, three points adrift of City, having won three of their last four games, while Arsenal are just one point further back despite currently lying in eighth place.
While City's title rivals, Chelsea aside, have suffered indifferent starts to the season, the Argentine defender insists it's too early to rule any team out, and that includes Ronald Koeman's Saints.
"I think you cannot forget about other teams like United, Arsenal, Liverpool. I think Southampton are in good shape at the moment. We know how tough this competition, the Premier League is," he told reporters, according to the Daily Mirror.
At this early stage of the season, however, Zabaleta knows his team cannot afford to be distracted by others, and must concentrate on getting results, adding: "We just need to think about ourselves and keep working hard to try and win games."
The strength of the Premier League is clear for all to see once again this year, and the 29-year-old is well aware that retaining their title will be a hard job for City, despite their recent success.
Last weekend Manuel Pellegrini's men were made to work hard for a 2-0 win at Aston Villa, despite being on top for the majority of the game, and Zabaleta can foresee more dangerous away trips on the horizon.
He said: "We know how tough this competition, the Premier League, is. We have won it twice in the last three years and we know how tough it is to win it. Every game is so hard to win, especially playing away from home."
Though Zabaleta may insist there are plenty of teams still in the hunt, it's Chelsea who lead the pack, and he remains focused on catching the Londoners.
"Of course Chelsea look a really solid team," said the Argentine international.
"They keep winning games and look really strong, probably one of the best teams in the Premier League at the moment.
"They are not going to lose too many games because the way they play, they will not concede many goals and then they have quality enough up front to score goals.
"Five points at the moment after seven games, although there is still a long way to go, you always need to win games and try to reduce the gap between us and Chelsea.
"We need to keep winning games to try and catch them and go top of the league, if it's possible."
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