Guardiola hails 'extraordinary' De Bruyne and Haaland

Pep Guardiola labeled Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland as "extraordinary" after the Manchester City stars destroyed Arsenal in a 4-1 victory that put the champions in control of the Premier League title race.

De Bruyne was at his masterful best as he put City ahead with a lung-bursting run and cool finish. The Belgium midfielder provided the cross for John Stones to head City's second, then netted again himself before Haaland wrapped up the crucial victory in the final seconds.

"The connection between Kevin and Erling is extraordinary, today we tried to use it as much as possible," Guardiola told BT Sport.

Second-place City is now just two points behind leaders Arsenal with two games in hand.

If City wins six of their last seven games, it is guaranteed to win the title for a fifth time in six seasons.

Guardiola isn't getting carried just yet however as the Spaniard urged his players to focus on the next three league games.
City travels to Fulham on Sunday, then hosts West Ham and Leeds.

Guardiola's men are also due to play Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals during that period, with an FA Cup final date against Manchester United in June as they chase a remarkable treble.

"I know the next three games are really important. After two games at home against West Ham and Leeds, these three games will dictate if we can do what we want to do," Guardiola said. "The reality is today we are two points behind Arsenal, they are in front of us."

De Bruyne echoed Guardiola as he refused to say the win had secured another title for City.

"It is too long. We know what people said about whoever won this game but it is so hard, a lot of things can happen," De Bruyne said. "We have two games in hand but we are still behind them."

'We could have scored more' On his deadly double act with Haaland, who assisted the Belgian's goals, De Bruyne said: "I think we set up a bit differently. Instead of two number eights I had the freedom to go left or right depending on where the space was.

"We could have scored more. The second half was 50-50 but we didn't give much away. They're a class team and hard to play against. We had to be at our best today, and we were."

After it led the table for much of the season, Arsenal's unexpected bid to win a first title in 19 years is in danger of fizzling out.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta conceded his team deserved nothing from a game in which they were completely out-classed.

"The analysis is clear, the better team won the game. They were at their best especially in the first half and we were nowhere near out level," he said.  "When that happens the gap becomes too big. We got punished and we could've been punished even more."

But Arteta hasn't given up hope that Arsenal can recover from a damaging run of four games without a win in time to hold off City's charge.

"We are where we are with five games to go. Those players deserve a lot of credit to be (fighting) nine and half months against this team," he said. "I've been almost 22 years in this country. I've seen a lot of things and I know how much it shifts from game to game.  We have to lift our players because they are suffering tonight and we played against an exceptional team. We know we are an exceptional team as well but today we were not at the races."


© Agence France-Presse

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications