Guardiola ‘more than pleased’ with City lead but still got ‘job to do’

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is happy with his side’s lead at the top of the Premier League table but insists they still have work to do.

City opened up a 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League table as Kevin de Bruyne’s second-half strike gave Guardiola’s side a 1-0 victory.

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Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Guardiola praised his sides performance.

“(We) Absolutely deserved it. They way we played, everything we have done, we cannot forget who we played, they are Euro champions, and how incredible a side they are. They defended well, they waited for transition to punish us and we won from one transition,” said the Spaniard.

“The only problem we had was after we went 1-0, they stepped up, they ended with Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku all on the pitch, but the team were brilliant.”

Guardiola was also quick to praise match-winner de Bruyne, but admitted he wants even more from the Belgian superstar.

“We have won what we have done together, and now I want to push him more, he is a world class player, he has humility, is humble. He has won three Premier Leagues and a lot of prizes, but I want more, because I know he can do it.

“He has everything, he missed a bit of confidence this season, he struggled a bit but he knows what he can do. His mum and dad have to be so proud of him.”

The 13-point lead at the top looks like City have all but wrapped up the title, but Guardiola is keen to keep his players grounded.

“Twelve victories in a row is incredible, so we must keep going.

“If Liverpool win their games in hand it is eight points, so my job is to take out of the heads of the players what people will say. We are more than pleased but there is a lot of a job to do.

De Bruyne himself also spoke to the media after the win and, like his manager, was quick to play down claims that the title race is over.

“I didn’t see any pass but then I saw a little gap between the defenders to bend it around them, and it worked,” the Belgian told BBC Match of the Day.

“It’s been like this lately against Chelsea since they played under Tuchel, and even Conte. You won’t get five clear-cut chances against them. Sometimes you need to stay patient and that’s what we did, otherwise the game gets stretched and that makes it more difficult for us.

“We’ve been in a situation where we’ve been eight or ten points ahead but also eight or ten points behind. We know it can change very quickly. We know the gap is big at the moment, but we know Liverpool aren’t far behind if they win their games.

“Both sides had a lot of Covid issues and injuries, so not a lot of people have trained a lot. The intensity was high – respect to everyone for that.”

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