Belfast Telegraph

Reds pushing City to raise standards higher, says Pep

Record breaker: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have reached similar heights to last year’s historic title winning campaign
Record breaker: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have reached similar heights to last year’s historic title winning campaign

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City side raised the bar last season but has thanked title rivals Liverpool for helping them maintain standards.

City won the Premier League with a record 100 points last season and by a biggest ever margin of 19 points.

This term they have been involved in a much tighter battle for the crown with Liverpool and it may take close to another century of points to see the Merseysiders off.

City boss Guardiola, whose side will reach 98 points if they win their remaining three games, feels the two clubs have pushed each other on.

He said: "People knew that before, with points, it was close to 90. Now you have to be close to 100, that was the standard last season.

"We helped Liverpool to achieve that and Liverpool helped us to maintain this level. Thanks to Liverpool we are competing.

"Liverpool realise to win the Premier League right now you have to make a lot of points.

"That's what we have communicated to each other really well.

"You know when Usain Bolt makes a 100-metre race that's the standard and the other people have to achieve it.

"For grand slams Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods - that is the standard, it's the same.

"One hundred points in a season - if you want to compete you have to do that."

Guardiola expects other rival sides to improve next season and admits he would be happy if City were just able to maintain the lofty standards they have currently reached.

He said: "Next season Chelsea are getting better, (Manchester) United are, Tottenham are.

"I'd sign right now to do what we have done again in the Premier League last season and this season. I don't expect more than that."

Such has been City's excellence they registered their 157th goal of the campaign - a new English record for a top-flight side in a single season - in Wednesday's crucial 2-0 derby win at Manchester United.

"It makes me proud, I love to score a lot of goals to respect this game, to show how we want to attack and do it in every game," Guardiola added.

"We have 157 goals but we don't have one guy who scored 60, everyone was involved."

The figure beats City's own record from their 2014 title-winning campaign under Manuel Pellegrini.

Guardiola said: "I'm very pleased that the top two are both Man City - Manuel's team is the second one.

"Both are there and it means the club is focused on playing an attractive game and I like that."

City will be looking to add to that tally as they travel to Burnley on Sunday. Kevin De Bruyne remains sidelined having injured his hamstring against Spurs, but fellow midfielder Fernandinho is hoping to prove his fitness after a knee injury.

Premier League fixtures: Today (3pm unless stated): Tottenham v West Ham (12.30), Crystal Palace v Everton, Fulham v Cardiff City, Southampton v Bournemouth, Watford v Wolves, Brighton v Newcastle United (5.30).

Tomorrow: Leicester City v Arsenal (12), Burnley v Manchester City (2.05), Man United v Chelsea (4.30).

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