Pep Guardiola complimented the “exceptional” mood among his Manchester City players after they stayed on Arsenal’s heels in the Premier League title race by thumping Bournemouth on Saturday evening.
First-half goals by Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden gave City a comprehensive three-goal advantage as they effectively wrapped up victory by the end of a first half, before Chris Mepham’s own goal increased their advantage early in the second half.
Jefferson Lerma found the back of net in what was a mere consolation, with seven minutes to play but City were always going to return within two points of leaders Arsenal, who have played one game fewer.
“I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing every day,” said Guardiola after the game. “The mood of the locker room is exceptional, the training sessions are really, really good. Everyone is helping each other.
Guardiola continued: “It’s tough because we played a lot of games away this last month. No recovery, three days between games, big travel. A lot of pressure, demanding physicality.
“Today we came here and behaved in the way we behaved. It made me feel we still have the desire to try and to try. We will try to fight for this Premier League, I don’t have any doubts.”
For much of the game, City were cruising as the Cherries buckled under the siege of Guardiola’s customary combination of furious pressing, attacking waves, and ruthless finishing.
However, it’s their defensive determination and spirit that impressed the most. Even with 4-0 lead in the second half, City players could be seen battling tooth and nail to try and keep a clean sheet.
Guardiola remarked that he demands nothing less from his players in terms of their responsibilities to the team’s travelling fans who have made a long journey down from Manchester.
“The players will be in trouble if they don’t do it,” said the Catalan boss. “They will be in trouble. When fans come five or six hours in their cars, buy a ticket, with our salaries, we have to run whether it’s 3-0, 4-0, 5-0.
“It sounds like I am a demagogue, but it’s the truth. You can perform well or bad. But the effort in this club whilst I’m here never will be put in doubt.
“We see the faces how happy they are when we win. You produce a good feeling in people, families. Tell me something else that can be better than that. Our supporters away are incredible.”