Manchester - Manchester
City manager Pep Guardiola believes his side have raised the bar in the
Premier League after edging one point back ahead of Liverpool in a
titanic title race with a 2-0 win at Manchester United on Wednesday.
Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane struck for the visitors in 12
second-half minutes at Old Trafford to inflict a seventh defeat in nine
games on United, who remain three points adrift of the top four.
City cannot match their record 100 points tally in romping to the
title last season, but victories over Burnley, Leicester and Brighton
will clinch the title on 98 points and ensure Liverpool's 29-year wait
to win the league continues despite already posting a club record points
tally in the Premier League era.
"We increased the level for the Premier League last season with 100
points. That's the level Liverpool are chasing. What they have done is
incredible but it's in our hands," said Guardiola.
"Both teams deserve the title. But it can be just one. The team that
is going to lose can't have regrets because they have given everything."
City's trip to Old Trafford was billed as the last big hurdle left
for Guardiola's men to clear despite United's terrible run of form.
However, Guardiola warned of the tight turnaround before a very different type of test at Burnley on Sunday.
"Normally with this kind of victory you can it enjoy it the most but we have to be calm," added Guardiola.
"Now we go to Burnley and we know how tough it will be. It's
important to be calm. We are still not champions with three games left - it's incredible with the points we have and Liverpool have.
"I told the players don't read tomorrow, don't watch the television, just rest and sleep a lot."
United boss Ole
Gunnar Solskjaer slammed his players' attitude after a 4-0 thrashing at
Everton on Sunday and was rewarded with a far more energetic and
committed performance, even if City's greater quality eventually shone
"They've set the standard in the last couple of seasons. They have
been the best team in the country and that's the standard we want to get
to," admitted Solskjaer.
Yet, Arsenal's defeat at Wolves means the Red Devils are still very
much in the race for Champions League qualification, should they beat
fourth-placed Chelsea at home on Sunday.
"I'm concerned about the lack of results," added Solskjaer.
"The strange reality is that we are still in with a shout for the top
four. We need more quality on Sunday because we need to win that game
and, if we win it, we have two games to get those points and goals we
Solskjaer has bemoaned United's fitness levels in recent weeks and
again after an early burst, they started to flag as City created a spurt
of chances either side of half-time.
"We know what's been going wrong, it's mentality and willingness to run for your team," said United striker Marcus Rashford.
"Forget the top four and the Champions League. We have to get to the
bottom of it and start playing like Manchester United for ourselves."
Raheem Sterling shot too close to David De Gea after weaving through a
host of United bodies inside the area before Sergio Aguero dragged well
wide when unmarked at the edge of the box as City went through the
gears towards the end of the first-half.
But it was an enforced change early in the second-half that swung the
game City's way as Guardiola boldly introduced Sane when the more
defensive-minded Fernandinho went down injured.
De Gea has been a rare model of consistent brilliance as United have fallen behind City in recent seasons.
But the Spaniard's dramatic dip in form of late continued as he could have done better for both goals.
Guardiola's positive change was instantly rewarded when Bernardo cut
inside onto his favoured left foot and beat De Gea at his near post.
Sane has been scarcely used by Guardiola of late, but the German,
whose winning goal inflicted Liverpool's only league defeat of the
season in January, again showed his capability to make a difference in
the biggest games.
Sterling led a City counter-attack before feeding Sane, whose powerful shot De Gea could not keep out.
"I like to be critical of him because I know his potential," said Guardiola of Sane.
"The way he came in was incredible."