Pep Guardiola’s praise for his Manchester City men was effusive after a 2-1 win over West Ham United at a snow-filled Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Guardiola had almost as many compliments for West Ham as he did for his team, calling the Irons the best channel-attackers in the Premier League, but make no mistake about the root of his joy.
His love for their day soon turned to the big picture, where Guardiola is putting this win in perspective. Triumphing against a good team in bad weather by playing their possession game to perfection? That’s so Pep it hurts.
“That’s why the Premier League is the most important title of the season because you play a lot of games in specific situations,” Guardiola said. “You have to be so resilient, be so strong mentally. To win the last three Premier Leagues in four years, and after what’s happened so far this season, top of the league is so important for us. It’s an incredible compliment for the team after six seasons together. So normally you have a tendency to drop something, and still they don’t do it. This is magnificent. These guys are incredible.”
Guardiola said to bring the intensity that City did after a challenging midweek defeat of Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League is a remarkable feat.
And he was surprised they were able to do it so effectively because West Ham United brings a unique challenge.
“At the end we won 2-1 and the way we played and the chances we created it could have been 3 or 4,” Guardiola said. “This is the most important thing, with the absences we have, they were brilliant. That’s why we’ve won a lot. Every 3 or 4 days, they are doing it.
“And we cannot forget which opponent we played. They have everything, set pieces, they defend really well. are so strong. They attack the channels like no team in the Premier League. They have more possession ball with Benrahma, with Lanzini, they have the quality to player. Declan Rice is an exceptional player. We know how difficult they are. We played more than decent to win for a better margin.”
Guardiola also praised his groundskeeper for keeping the pitch in good shape on a day that Burnley and Tottenham were forced to cancel their game.
He says he’s experienced plenty of snow-related challenges when he was in the Bundesliga, but said the buildings surrounding England’s stadia present a bigger obstacle to visibility.
“In Germany more often than here but in Germany there is more light,” Guardiola said. “There is absence of light over the buildings in Manchester. Maybe next time we will play on a sunny, sunny day.”