MANCHESTER, England — The frightening thing for the rest of the Premier League is that Pep Guardiola thinks Manchester City can get even better.
The numbers are scary enough as it is. After a 4-1 victory over Wolves on Tuesday night it is now 21 wins in a row over all competitions. They have scored more (56) and conceded fewer goals (17) than anyone else in the league and sit 15 points clear at the top.
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“It was well deserved,” said Guardiola afterwards.
“A fantastic game, we suffered after we conceded the goal from the first shot on target that they had and it is so difficult to play against them. They concede so few and they have speed up front but we were fantastic.
“We played really well. At 1-1, we suffered for five minutes but we overcame that situation and the win was well deserved.”
Still, the City boss is rarely satisfied. “Sometimes wanted to attack too quick,” he added. “Sometimes we want to do the situations too quick. You need more process, more passes, and calm and against this team, you open the game.”
While the 19 other teams plot how to close the gap, Guardiola thinks it can get bigger and worryingly for Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and the rest, he is probably right. His squad is packed so full of talent that he was able to make six changes for Wolves’ visit to the Etihad Stadium and still pick a team arguably stronger than the one he fielded against West Ham on Saturday.
But if anyone had a chance of stopping City’s run it was Nuno Espirito Santo, who has had more joy against Guardiola than most of his colleagues. Since returning to the Premier League in 2018, Wolves have taken seven points from games against City — the joint-best record of any team during that period — and won home and away last season.
Guardiola knows it too, replying with an effusive “oh my god” when asked in the build-up about Wolves’ threat. But he needn’t have worried and apart from a short spell after Conor Coady equalised with Wolves’ first shot of any description after more than an hour, it was all City.
Leander Dendoncker scored an own goal, Gabriel Jesus got two, and Riyad Mahrez got another and now they are just two wins short of Bayern Munich’s record of 23 in succession. Since the run started with a 1-0 win over Southampton on Dec. 19, 15 of City’s 21 victories have been in the Premier League and it is staggering what they have been able to achieve in a season when no other team has managed more than four wins in a row.
If Guardiola has his way they will be even better next year.
City have been able to do all this without a recognised striker banging in the goals. They are the league’s top scorers with 56 but Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have just six between them. Perhaps not unrelated, Guardiola’s team also tops the chart for “big chances missed” this season; a problem a healthy, clinical striker could solve if one arrives this summer.
At the other end, Aymeric Laporte was not so long ago lauded by Guardiola as the “best left-sided centre-back in the world” but the Frenchman has only been needed 10 times in the league this season. Left-back remains a position that could be strengthened and their most expensive signing for the job, Benjamin Mendy, was not in the squad at all against Wolves. It is also not as if Guardiola has been particularly lucky with injuries this season and although they have not had Liverpool levels of squad devastation, only seven teams have lost more days to injury.
Next season could be another when records tumble, but for now, Guardiola’s focus is Manchester United on Sunday and taking back their title from Liverpool.
“We are going to look at the records and everything we have done in the league when it’s over, so Manchester United [next],” said Guardiola.
“Manchester United. That’s all we care [about].
“The champions are Liverpool. The crown belongs to them. We are in the best position right now to take it out and we are going to try but they are the champions and we want to win it.
“We are 15 points ahead, now one or two days off for everyone especially mentally because we don’t have much time and prepare for United at home.”