Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that his team’s destiny is in their own hands after they beat Arsenal 4-1 in a crucial Premier League clash on Wednesday.
The victory reduced the gap between the two title rivals to just two points, with City having two games in hand over the leaders.
Guardiola said he was delighted with his team’s performance and urged them to maintain their focus and intensity for the remaining seven games of the season.
“Absolutely my position now (is what I prefer over Arsenal’s),” he said. “It’s in our hands. I’d love to have six points from these two games (in hand), but we have to win them.”
City will have a chance to go top of the table on Sunday when they visit Fulham.
Guardiola said the next three games, which also include home matches against West Ham and Leeds United, will be very important for his team’s title hopes.
“I think the next three games will be really, really important. But the most important thing is our destiny is in our hands. And when you arrive at the end of the season, whatever happened, it doesn’t matter. It’s our performance, to win the (remaining) games, it depends on us. This is the best way to approach the last seven games we still have.”
City were dominant against Arsenal, scoring four goals through Kevin De Bruyne (2), Erling Haaland and John Stones. Haaland also broke the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season, with his 33rd strike of the campaign.
Guardiola praised the partnership between De Bruyne and Haaland, who have been instrumental in City’s attack this season.
“The threat, Kevin-Erling, Erling-Kevin is so, so important,” he said. “Being together, when teams press so high and we regain balls with the space behind, they’re so dangerous, and we use it.”
City are also chasing the treble this season, having reached the FA Cup final and the Champions League semi-finals.
Guardiola said he was proud of his team’s consistency and competitiveness in all competitions.
“If we play like today we are an incredible, competitive team. Absolutely. But there are many, many good teams all around the world,” he said.
“The biggest compliment, Guardiola added, is that Manchester City, who are chasing their third consecutive Premier League title, are always in the thick of it at the end of the season.
“Many, many years we are there in all competitions, this is the best compliment we can get.”
Thoughts on Real Madrid
Guardiola also spoke about his upcoming tie against familiar foe Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
He said he was not thinking about Madrid yet and that his attention was on Fulham first.
“When you are 10-15 points behind the leader, then maybe you prioritize the Champions League but we haven’t got the time to prioritize anything,” he said. “The Premier League is so nice, so attractive. Being the champion is right now a similar level than you can tell me about the Champions League.
“The people say, ‘Why? Because you don’t have it (the Champions League).’ But the Premier League is the Premier League. It’s 11 months, it’s every week, every week. My attention is Fulham, then West Ham and then it will be Leeds, 100%. After Leeds, I have enough time — not much because it is Saturday-Tuesday — but of course my (coaching) team will help me a bit to prepare for Madrid.”
He also revealed his idea for how to face Real Madrid in a potentially decisive encounter.
“I have an idea more or less but nothing specific,” he said. “I think all the clubs in the world have the feeling if you want to win this competition you have to beat Real Madrid. It used to be Barcelona but now it’s Madrid.”
“They are an incredible team with an incredible manager,” he added. “They have won this competition 13 times and they know how to play these games. It will be a big challenge for us but we are ready for it.”