PEP GUARDIOLA has challenged his players to become greatest Premier League team ever by adding two records to the trophy they will collect on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are just one goal away from Chelsea's record of 103
Manchester City’s win against West Ham on Sunday took them to within one goal and one point of Chelsea’s records set in 2010 and 2005 respectively.
Huddersfield visit the Etihad next, when the cup will be presented – but Guardiola wants more.
“I’m happy to receive the title but the target is the numbers,” he said. “We have the chance to be the best team in Premier League history.
“It will not be easy to break the records but it’s good to see something to fight for. The numbers will be there if we achieve one more victory.”
Already he is thinking of next season. “Maybe two players – no more than that, for next year,” he said, before adding with a wry smile, “Although maybe with our club they will cost £1billion!”
As far as Sunday’s game is concerned, it could have been a cricket score. As it was City resume against Huddersfield on Sunday just one behind Chelsea’s record innings of 103 goals and seven short of a remarkable century of points.
David Moyes' West Ham side are still not assured of Premier League football for next season
Pep Guardiola has now seen his side score 13 goals here in three games; just three fewer than David Moyes has witnessed in nearly six months traipsing back and forth to this ill-fated venue.
Another defeat for the Hammers, albeit a predictable one, almost certainly means the West Ham manager will need a few more against his two former clubs, Manchester United and Everton, when they visit before the end of the season.
Moyes is confident that should not be beyond them.
“I’m not as anxious as when I first came in, because we were in the bottom three then,” he said. “In the main, our form here has been pretty good. I’m hoping one of those last two games will turn into points and we’ll be OK.”
Leroy Sane scored his tenth Premier League goal of the season
From the ease with which Manchester City took the lead, it was clear there were going to be goals aplenty.
Not for the last time, Raheem Sterling suddenly appeared from nowhere and in the next instant the ball joined him from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Adrian was quick enough to snaffle out the initial danger, but when the ball ran out to Leroy Sane, the West Ham goalkeeper might well have saved again had the shot not deflected off Patrice Evra’s head and wrong-footed him completely.
Further misfortune was to befall the West Ham defence in the 27th minute when Adrian got a glove to De Bruyne’s low cross only for it to rebound off the shins of Declan Rice and Pablo Zabaleta into the net, the Premier League’s mysterious Match Centre dictating it was the latter who had got the final touch.
West Ham struggled to defence against this season's Premier League champions
It was a rather a streaky way for Manchester City to reach their century and, like a batsman relieved to find himself on three figures, they took their eye off the ball for a couple of overs.
With the fearsome sight of Marko Arnautovic hunting him down, City goalkeeper Ederson did not look quite so much the complete footballer he has been lauded as recently and only a clumsy foul by the West Ham striker spared his blushes when he lost possession in the 39th minute and Arnautovic rolled the ball into the vacant net.
West Ham then scored an entirely legitimate goal just before the break. Ilkay Gundogan fouled Edimilson Fernandes right on the edge of the box and Aaron Cresswell curled a superb free-kick around the wall and in at the near post to raise the home hopes.
Gabriel Jesus scored Manchester City's third goal at the Olympic Stadium
But as soon as the second half started, City settled back in at the crease and started to compile their second hundred.
Sterling, tormenting West Ham as much with his intelligent distribution as his usual pace, had the patience in the 53rd minute to let his first wave of targets go and picked out the slightly deeper Gabriel Jesus instead, who steered in the third.
The England winger was so convinced he won a penalty from Cresswell four minutes later that he even grabbed the ball. Unsympathetic referee Neil Swarbrick gave a hand ball against him. The Wigan official will not enjoy a somewhat damning replay.
It was only a matter of time before the fourth arrived. Again Sterling was the provider – this time it was Fernandinho with the patience to supply the finishing touch.
Fernandinho finished off the scoring after good work by Raheem Sterling
And then City sort of stopped. Looked backwards with their passing instead of forwards and simply played through to stumps. Saving themselves for the Etihad.
Next week they collect the Premier League title there. They will probably claim the points record (currently 95) and the goal record (103) to boot. They will be hoping for a record 31st win.
The brilliance of this Manchester City team is that they seem to control not only if they beat these records, but when.
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