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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Pep Guardiola calls Man City 'lucky' in West Ham win as Man Utd gap widens and title nears

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Pep Guardiola calls Man City 'lucky' in West Ham win as Man Utd gap widens and title nears
Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City players were “lucky” to get all three points as they made it a remarkable 20 consecutive wins across all competitions by overcoming a resilient West Ham at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from centre-backs Ruben Dias and John Stones gave the Citizens the full three points after Michail Antonio had levelled for the Hammers in the first half.

West Ham were stubborn opposition but City eventually found a way through to continue an astonishing winning run that puts them 13 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, who play Chelsea on Sunday.

Only Real Madrid (22 wins in 2014) and Bayern Munich (23 wins in 2020) have endured a longer winning run across Europe’s top leagues.

If they manage a draw or a victory against Wolves on Tuesday, City will match their best-ever undefeated streak under two-time Premier League-winning boss Guardiola.

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Winning a third crown in four seasons seems an inevitability as City also chase success in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Champions League to go with domestic glory.

But while they managed an impressive victory against a threatening West Ham team, Guardiola declared his side were “lucky” given how well the visitors played.

Speaking to BT Sport, the Catalan said: “Definitely [as tough as I expected]. First of all the quality of the opponent after 26 fixtures, they’re fourth in the table, so it means a lot [to beat them].

“The physicality is really impressive and now I think they have the quality to play with [Jesse] Lingard and [Pablo] Fornals and Antonio is always so difficult to control.

“After 10 or 15 minutes we said, ‘OK we’re not going to paint something beautiful. Today’s the game to take the three points.’

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“In the second half we were much better than the first half, when we struggled.

“That’s the reality. When you play a lot of games in an unbeaten run and after a Champions League game, with just two days [of rest], it’s normal these kind of things happen.

“When you have a lot of clean sheets, that is unusual. The usual is that sometimes you concede a goal against these teams.

“They run perfectly in counter-attacks, Declan Rice and Soucek are fantastic holding midfielders. A real, real tough game. We knew it before.

“We were lucky, we were lucky for the players to take the three points.”

After eight games, City had only 12 points having suffered three draws and two defeats.

There was talk in the aftermath of the 2-0 loss to Tottenham in November that this City team needed a rebuild.

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But since then they are 27 unbeaten across all competitions and have built a lead at the top of the table that seems uncatchable.

They are able to clinch 98 points if they win their final 12 matches, having claimed 100 points and then 98 in their two title-winning 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Guardiola added of his side’s turnaround this term: “It’s not bad! After 12 or 13 years, that [statistic about the poor start] means the previous ones were so good.

“The season is too long – we cannot judge for a few games like we are not going to judge it until the end of the season. The mathematics matter at the end of the season.”

After taking on Wolves at the Etihad in midweek, City welcome rivals United to their home stadium knowing a win there would all but certainly wrap up the title, even if not mathematically.

Daily Express :: Sport Feed

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Pep Guardiola calls Man City 'lucky' in West Ham win as Man Utd gap widens and title nears
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