Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF
Pep Guardiola claimed Premier League leaders Chelsea have nothing to fear from Manchester City despite his side’s 4-0 demolition of West Ham.
Guardiola’s team delivered a swaggering display at the London Stadium on Wednesday as goals from Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Yaya Toure secured City’s biggest league win since October.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was watching from the stands and must have been impressed by City.
But City boss Guardiola is adamant the 10-point gap between his fifth-placed team and Chelsea is too much to overcome.
Chelsea are also nine points clear of second-placed Tottenham and Guardiola said the Blues will have to choke badly to surrender their grip on the title.
“He doesn’t have to be too worried about what he saw. They are nine points in front. Only Chelsea can lose the Premier League,” Guardiola said.
“When you see how many games they lost in the last 16 games, normally you can expect they won’t lose many more.
“In sport you don’t know, but I don’t think we can catch them.
“It’s a big mistake when you are 10 points behind to think of Chelsea. We have to qualify for the Champions League first.
“We have been inconsistent. After we win we have drawn or lost one or two games.”
City’s dominant performance was achieved without star striker Sergio Aguero and first choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who were both left on the bench by Guardiola.
The Spaniard insisted both players still remain a big part of his plans, but he refused to say whether they will return to the starting line-up against Swansea on Sunday.
“Today I decided this team, I will sleep well. I have 22, 23 guys and everyone deserves to play,” he said.
“I make a lot of mistakes, but I have to make decisions.
“Sergio remains so important for us. He knows and everybody knows we cannot achieve our goals without him.
“I take a decision with my staff based on the performances of the past. I like to involve as many players as possible with this crazy calendar.”
With Aguero on the sidelines, it was City’s trio of dazzling young forwards who stole the show.
Leroy Sane, 21, Raheem Sterling, 22, and Gabriel Jesus, 19, were all too hot for West Ham to handle and Guardiola expects great things from them in the future.
“We have three strikers who are so quick and can make runs behind the defence that are so dangerous,” he said.
“These three guys are the future for the club. In Europe you cannot see another team with three strikers this young.”
“Gabriel learnt what it means to play in England away. He is a fighter, he will always attack and wants to score goals.
“Leroy had some problems at the beginning but now he’s settled. They will be important players for the next few years.”
For West Ham manager Slaven Bilic it was a case of deja vu as his team were crushed by City again, just weeks after losing 5-0 to them in the FA Cup.
“It’s hard to find positive things from this game. It was kind of a copy and paste from the Cup game,” Bilic said.
“It’s very frustrating. We made such bad mistakes for the first and third goal. If you give the ball away in those areas, they’ll punish you.
“When it’s 3-0, it’s hard to play against them. We have recovered from heavy defeats before and we have to do it again.”