Pep Guardiola was adamant that the next three games will dictate the title race after Manchester City’s 4-1 home win against Arsenal saw them take hold of the Premier League.
City remain in second place and two points behind Arsenal but, with two games down on their London rivals, have struggled for momentum in their own hands with just seven games to go.
A brace from Kevin De Bruyne coupled with goals from John Stones and Erling Haaland cemented a dominant home performance from Guardiola’s side, but the City manager was quick to turn his attention to the crucial games ahead as City look to take advantage of games in hand. their London rivals.
“I know the next three games are really important,” he told BT Sport.
“Fulham on Sunday, what Marco Silva has done this season is incredible, and then after the two home games against West Ham and Leeds, these games will dictate the season.
“The reality today is that we are behind Arsenal, they are two points ahead of us.”
Guardiola went on to praise his side’s dominant manner of victory who have now won 12 consecutive league games against Arsenal.
“From the first minute we were incredibly focused,” said Guardiola.
“The boys responded in an incredible way in an important match, not decisive, but really important.
“We’re consecutive Premier League winners, so in September, October, when you lose a game you say you have time, but Arsenal weren’t like that. When we get into the last couple of months, the players know it’s close and if we lose, we don’t have possibility.
“As a player, playing with the mentality that there is no choice but to win, that’s the best way to approach matches. Over the past couple of months, the players have shown that every match we try to win and move forward.”
Stones, whose header provided City’s crucial second goal on the stroke of half-time, suggested the City team’s experience was a key factor in the crucial victory.
He said: “We’ve been through difficult moments and situations at this stage of the season in the past, and it’s done us so much good – we know how to deal with and what to do in different scenarios.
“Everyone has been there and everyone has that hunger. Day is like today there is a lot of pressure from outside, but we know our job and what is being asked of us on the pitch and that experience helps in those moments of great pressure.”
Guardiola will now look to guide his side to a fifth league title in six years and has announced the backing of the club’s board and the quality of its players for his stunning success at the Manchester club.
“This club has given me everything from hierarchy,” he said.
“I remember the first season we didn’t win, they supported me wholeheartedly. We’ve been lucky as a team with the way Liverpool have pushed us in previous seasons and this season, Arsenal – they got 50 points in the first half of the season We want to win, why should we stop, it is not necessary.
“I’ve been to Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. The incredible qualities of the players I’ve had at my disposal: it’s work ethic, the rest is quality.”