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English Premier League

Can anyone stop them? ‘No complacency’ spells no hope for Manchester City’s chasers

Pep Guardiola’s side secure record 15th consecutive win and maintain 11-point Premier League lead with 4-0 masterclass at Swansea

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 11:09am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 8:56pm

The perfectionist’s streak that runs through Pep Guardiola demanded he should declare after another record-breaking triumph there would be absolutely no possibility of complacency now derailing Manchester City.

Fresh from overseeing an outright record for successive Premier League victories – 15 and counting this season – with another 4-0 masterclass at Swansea, Guardiola sounded almost affronted at the idea the leaders might lose their focus.

“That is not going to happen,” the Spaniard said, when asked if a slacking off might occur with City now 11 points clear and their nearest chasers all seemingly becoming more resigned to it being a hopeless pursuit.

“We are so demanding for our players. We can lose, we can drop points but complacency never happened in the past, the present or the future. Winning 15 games in a row gives us a lot of confidence,” Guardiola said.

Having broken the single-season record with a 14th consecutive win in the Manchester derby at United on Sunday, win number 15 beat the top flight landmark in the Premier League era set by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, spanning two seasons in 2002.

Yet what has evidently delighted the Spaniard more than anything has been the way City seemed to have carved out their triumphs in the same kaleidoscopic manner he fashioned previously at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

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“If people are happy watching us, that is the best gift,” he said, making it sound like an early Christmas present for English soccer fans.

Among the delights he has served up, perhaps nothing has been finer than the way Guardiola has brought David Silva, his marvellous Spanish midfield conductor, into full bloom.

With his double against Swansea, Silva has now been involved in 13 Premier League goals in 17 matches this season – five goals and eight assists – which is already more than he managed in the whole of 2016-17.

Guardiola was left delighted that, at 31, his orchestrator was now apparently also becoming more of a predator.

“I’m so happy for David,” he enthused. “We cannot disguise his quality but in the past he didn’t score too much goals. He’s sharp, he’s in an amazing condition.”

It may have been a pleasure for the neutral but for Swansea boss Paul Clement, who also had to see goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero ensure his side remain rooted to the foot of the table, it was “horrible” to behold.

“For me, [City] are one of the best sides I’ve ever come across,” said Clement, who has been assistant manager at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

“So many good athletes, so many intelligent footballers and it’s really hard to pin them down.”

So hard indeed that only Everton, in the Premier League, this season have managed to take a point from them and it is increasingly looking the tallest of orders for any other side to follow suit.