Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes his side have raised the bar in the Premier League after edging one point back ahead of Liverpool in a titanic title race with a 2-0 win at Manchester United on Wednesday.
Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane struck for the visitors in 12 second-half minutes at Old Trafford to inflict a seventh defeat in nine games on United, who remain three points adrift of the top four.
City cannot match their record 100 points tally in romping to the title last season, but victories over Burnley, Leicester and Brighton will clinch the title on 98 points and ensure Liverpool’s 29-year wait to win the league continues despite already posting a club record points tally in the Premier League era.
“We increased the level for the Premier League last season with 100 points. That’s the level Liverpool are chasing. What they have done is incredible but it’s in our hands,” said Guardiola.
“Both teams deserve the title. But it can be just one. The team that is going to lose can’t have regrets because they have given everything.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer slammed his players’ attitude after a 4-0 thrashing at Everton on Sunday and was rewarded with a far more energetic and committed performance, even if City’s greater quality eventually shone through.
“They’ve set the standard in the last couple of seasons. They have been the best team in the country and that’s the standard we want to get to,” admitted Solskjaer.
Yet, Arsenal’s defeat at Wolves means the Red Devils are still very much in the race for Champions League qualification, should they beat fourth-placed Chelsea at home on Sunday.
“I’m concerned about the lack of results,” added Solskjaer.
“The strange reality is that we are still in with a shout for the top four. We need more quality on Sunday because we need to win that game and, if we win it, we have two games to get those points and goals we need.”
Solskjaer has bemoaned United’s fitness levels in recent weeks and again after an early burst, they started to flag as City created a spurt of chances either side of half-time.
“We know what’s been going wrong, it’s mentality and willingness to run for your team,” said United striker Marcus Rashford.
“Forget the top four and the Champions League. We have to get to the bottom of it and start playing like Manchester United for ourselves.”