Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini conceded finishing fifth or lower in the Premier League is not "inconceivable" as his team struggle for form.
City may have hoisted the League Cup trophy last week, but the Manchester club are in the midst of a three-game losing streak in the Premier League.
Defeats to Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester City have seen City's stranglehold on fourth position virtually evaporate, with rivals Manchester United only adrift on goal difference after 28 rounds, though they have played a game extra.
And as the season enters its business end, Pellegrini admitted missing out on the top four and the Champions League is a real possibility.
"In the Premier League nothing is inconceivable," Pellegrini said. "Every year you have more stronger teams so everything can happen in the Premier League.
"[But] if I say that, you will put that City will not finish in the top four ... I've always said that we are going to finish fighting for the title."
Pressed on United and their resurgent form, Pellegrini added: "I said before that when it is mathematically possible to win the title, a club like Manchester United will always have the option, the same as West Ham, the same as Manchester City and other clubs because we need to play for another 30 points.
"It's a lot of points and I don't think that the gap can't be reduced in these 10 games. If you go now to Leicester, last season, I think that they won 18 from 18 or 19 from 21 so be careful. Nothing is finished this season.
"Nobody can be sure you will finish first. It's a very difficult league. That's why last year when we didn't win the title it was not bad to be in second. It's a competitive league and every year more teams are trying to be in the top four but we continue thinking we can win the title.
"We have the points total we deserve. Maybe if we win the game we have in hand we are just one point behind Arsenal. Every manager has the duty to get their team as high as possible."