Manchester City’s record-breaking run a ‘surprise’ to Pep Guardiola

This article is more than 1 month old
  • City stay 10 points clear with narrow victory at Arsenal
  • ‘We don’t have time for anything, just recover and prepare’
Pep Guardiola has taken City to the top of the table.
Pep Guardiola has taken City to the top of the table. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Pep Guardiola has taken City to the top of the table. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Last modified on Mon 22 Feb 2021 00.09 EST

Pep Guardiola admitted he is “surprised and impressed” by Manchester City’s record-breaking winning run, which they extended with a narrow victory at Arsenal on Sunday.

City remain 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to Raheem Sterling’s goal inside the first two minutes, although the scoreline did not reflect their superiority over opponents who struggled to build up attacking momentum. It means they have now won 18 successive matches in all competitions, extending the record they set at Swansea three games previously. Guardiola played down the feat’s importance but said he had not seen it coming.

“The record will be broken one day, we will lose games,” he said. “I’m surprised and impressed when everyone is suffering in this world, what is happening today, everyone is dropping points, and we were consistent for the last two months.

“We cannot forget that we won at Anfield, against Tottenham, at Goodison Park and here: incredibly tough games in this period. That’s why I’m more than pleased to win just 1-0. People talk and talk about the records but to do this you have to win this type of game many, many, many times.”

City will face Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday, a tie that will be played in Budapest because of Covid-19 rules, and host West Ham on Saturday for the first of four successive Premier League home games. Their hot streak includes 13 consecutive top-flight wins but Guardiola believes he will need to fully utilise his squad if they are to take the title.

“We have to rotate the team and we will have to do it again and again. We don’t have time for anything: just to recover and prepare, mentally, as strong a team as possible. But of course we cannot deny, it is 39 points to play, 10 in front, and we need the victories to be champions.”

Fernandinho, the 35-year-old club captain, was given his first start in six games in central midfield. “What a game, what a game,” Guardiola said of the Brazilian’s performance. “He’s an incredible person, captain and incredible player.”

Guardiola praised his opposite number and former assistant, Mikel Arteta, who he said “knows everything about football”. Arteta’s team improved after a catastrophic start but managed only one shot on target. The Arsenal manager was left to lament the early errors that brought a third defeat in four league fixtures. “To start the way we did, conceding the goal and the way we did it, you have to be exceptional in the rest of the game,” he said.

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email

Arsenal’s attentions switch to their Europa League last 32 second leg with Benfica on Thursday and Arteta described that match, to be contested in Athens, as a “final”.