Pep Guardiola was absolutely livid on the touchline. So irate and so animated was the Manchester City boss that in gesticulating so wildly he later had to retie his scarf. The Spaniard had just witnessed Gabriel Jesus miss a chance to put City ahead against Everton at Goodison Park. There was still half an hour to play and the visitors were in control but Guardiola wants his teams to be clinical, lethal, as close to perfection as they can humanly be. That’s why, in the end, they clinched a 3-1 victory with relative ease and now lead the Premier League by 10 points.
City headed to Merseyside looking to make it 17 successive victories and as heavy favourites to lift the Premier League trophy come May. Especially after Jurgen Klopp, manager of defending champions Liverpool, conceded the title on Saturday following his side’s 3-1 loss at Leicester. But Guardiola knows football is full of twists and turns, and knows his team have to twist the knife and ensure the opposition are dead and buried before they can afford to miss gilt-edged chances. Every game in the top division is hard, but there are easier grounds to visit than Goodison.
Already in the first half, Guardiola had seen his side pegged back once, Richarlison fortuitously equalising for the Blues with his upper thigh to cancel out Phil Foden’s opener. Guardiola will not have been thinking about the record of successive victories, he won’t care one jot. What he will have been mightily aware of though, is that going into the game against Everton, City were only seven points clear of second-placed Manchester United with 45 points to play for.
The coach wants his team to be efficient in the most thorough way possible. He has ridiculously high standards and that is why Jesus’ miss caused such a reaction. It is that reaction though, that will and desire to win, which saw City pull through.
Riyad Mahrez produced a stunning left-footed rifle into the corner of the net just after the hour mark before Bernardo Silva found the same spot with the same foot 15 minutes later.
When Amazon pointed out to Guardiola at the end of the game that it would be hard for City to lose the title now, he responded simply, "Arsenal," Man City's next opponents on Sunday. It's one game at a time for Pep.
"The guys run the way they have to do and it's another three points. This team [Everton] scored three goals at Old Trafford, five goals against Tottenham. They have the ability to create chances. We conceded fewest and this is the best.
"That is our identity. When you win a lot of games everyone wants to beat you and it is tricky. I have not seen that the team is thinking of the table, we have spoken about that. We are not here to defend our lead, it is all about three points, three points."
Guardiola will have been buoyed by the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne. Sergio Aguero too, who has been sidelined for much of the season, was on the bench. The star duo will certainly help City get over the line.
On Wednesday, it was a job well done for Jesus and Co, even if the Brazilian did briefly irk his manager. After all, he has four strikes to his name and Guardiola knows that every goal and every point counts.
For the rest of the world, business as usual is still on hold due to the global pandemic. But for City, they are back in the swing of doing what they do best, and that’s winning games of football. They won’t always be at their swashbuckling best but if they keep this up, goals will always come and they will wrap up the Premier League title with plenty to spare. Pep will demand nothing less.