Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City got “lucky” in a 2-1 win over West Ham, but he is happy to have secured a 20th successive victory across all competitions as “mathematics matter at the end of the season”.
The Blues welcomed the in-form Hammers to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday aware that they had their work cut out against top four-chasing rivals and with a few weary legs to factor in following midweek Champions League action.
City have, however, been sweeping aside all before them over recent weeks and once again showed the credentials of title winners as they found a way of edging past David Moyes’ plucky visitors.
What has been said?
Guardiola told BT Sport after seeing a stunning sequence of results extended by his side: “After 45 minutes today we realise we are not going to paint anything beautiful.
“Second half we were much better than the first half. When you play a lot of games, in the league and then the Champions League, this is normal.
“We were lucky to get all three points. The mathematics matter at the end of the season.”
What happened against West Ham?
City had all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero back in their starting XI against the Hammers, but inspiration came from surprising sources.
Centre-half duo Ruben Dias and John Stones got the Blues’ goals, with the impressive standards they have been setting of late maintained in another solid collective effort.
Dias broke the deadlock at the Etihad after half-an-hour, as he headed home a pinpoint cross from Kevin De Bruyne.
Michail Antonio, however, restored parity before the interval as he bundled in from close range.
City needed a response after the interval, in a bid to pull 13 points clear at the top of the table, and got one as Riyad Mahrez teed up Stones for a 68th-minute winner.
The bigger picture
There appears to be no stopping City at present, with a historic quadruple still on the cards for Guardiola’s team.
The Carabao Cup finalists, who are also through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and last 16 of the Champions League, will be back in top-flight action at home to Wolves on Tuesday before then playing host to arch-rivals Manchester United on derby day next weekend.