London – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his club was back after watching his players outclass Chelsea 3-1 to move into the top five of the Premier League standings on Sunday.
City scored three times in the first 16 minutes as Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne helped the visiting team send a warning to the other title contenders.
“We played really well,” Guardiola said. “Today we were back like we were. An important win at Chelsea away.
“The Premier League is weird for everything. Everything is weird, just have to be focused during the games but otherwise relax. Hopefully in the Premier League in the last six, seven games we can be there fighting.” City is unbeaten in seven games and only four points behind co-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United with a game in hand. At times, the club displayed the kind of soccer that brought it back-to-back titles from 2017.
Even more impressive was the fact Guardiola was without six players who were isolating because of a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.
“The result is incredible for us, especially the way that we played,” Guardiola said. “Chelsea are one of the strongest teams, but we had a plan and tried to play how we’ve done in the past and it worked, the players were fantastic. We have to play to our rhythm. We won the Premier League like that — more patient, more calm — and we’ve missed that tempo a little bit for many reasons.
“The way we won the two Premier League titles was like today.”
Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne said he was delighted the team rediscovered its ruthlessness, though he admitted it felt a “bit bizarre” to play as a striker.
With Sergio Aguero on the bench as he deals with a knee injury and fellow striker Gabriel Jesus out after contracting COVID-19, De Bruyne was moved forward and responded with a goal and an assist.
“Bit bizarre in the beginning,” De Bruyne told Sky Sports when asked about his experience.
“I’ve done it a few times in my career. Obviously we have a lot of forwards out and the coach asked me to do this job, so I tried my best to do it as good as possible.” The most important thing was securing three points.
“It’s important we win one of these big games,” De Bruyne said. “This season, we had played some good games but not won any of them, so we have shown we can win the big games.
“We’re still fighting an uphill battle but we are getting closer, that’s all we can do now.” While Man City is back, Chelsea appears to be going backwards after a fourth defeat in six league games.
The Blues actually started well on Sunday, but had no answer once City clicked into gear.
“For 10 minutes we were good, then they started to play and we concede two poor goals back-to-back in the game. It knocked us and we didn’t react well,” said manager Frank Lampard, who has seen his team drop to eighth in the standings.
“Serious lessons in the first half, good character in the second half but then the game was done. When a team gives you a problem it has to be dealt with but we didn’t.”
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