Pep Guardiola insisted he is enjoying the pressure that comes with Manchester City’s bid for the Premier League and Champions League titles after his team thrashed Leeds United 4-0.
Rodri and Nathan Ake converted from set pieces to put City in control of their Premier League clash at Elland Road, as the visitors reached 18 set-piece goals in the league this season (excluding penalties) – the highest tally in the competition.
Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho added some gloss to the scoreline late on as City returned to the Premier League summit, having been overtaken by Liverpool after the Reds’ 1-0 win over Newcastle United earlier on Saturday.
City are now unbeaten in eight league games, while title rivals Liverpool have dropped just two points in their last 14 games in the competition, but Guardiola insisted he was relishing the pressure of the title race after securing an “incredible” victory.
“I prefer to feel the pressure than to not feel it! It means we have a chance to do it,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s a long season but now it’s the last effort, we have a final in Madrid in four days and after, the last four games of the Premier League.
“Today was so important, you know, to make our chances to be champions alive again.
“We suffered a lot in the first half, but after the second goal we had control and we could have scored more goals. It’s an incredible result for us, so important.
“We defended well, sometimes set pieces are so important, with Nathan Ake on the pitch we are really strong. What a game [Aymeric] Laporte played. He played an incredible game. We have five games, potentially six [if City make the Champions League final], to end the season.”
5 – Man City have kept a clean sheet in each of their last five away Premier League games – their longest ever run of consecutive away clean sheets in their league history. Impervious. pic.twitter.com/qcBTUB0Lm1
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 30, 2022
In completing their first league double over Leeds since 1981-82 – a season that saw the Yorkshire club relegated from the top flight – City recorded their fifth successive away clean sheet in the Premier League.
That sequence represents the longest such run in City’s history, and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said the team overcame a “huge test” in their quest for consecutive Premier League titles.
“Leeds started with a lot of intensity and made our lives difficult,” Gundogan added. “Obviously the first goal helped us a lot, but still in the first half they were more than in the game.
“After the second we were able to move the ball better, quicker, and create more chances. At the end of the day, it was a very good result for us.”
City and Liverpool have set a relentless pace in another absorbing race between the duo, and Gundogan echoed his manager’s sentiments in claiming the players were enjoying the pressure that competition brings.
“It’s only as tough as you make it, we are all competitors, and we need to be able to manage these kinds of situations,” he said. “It’s normal that sometimes they will play first and sometimes we’re going to play first.
“But the pressure is always on, and the responsibility is always there to win all the games. It looks like both teams might not struggle until the end, that’s what we want obviously, and every game is a final.”
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