Pep Guardiola praised the “extraordinary” mood among his Manchester City players after they kept the Premier League title race alive by beating Bournemouth.
City won easily 4-1 at the Vitality Stadium after clinching victory and outclassing the hosts at the end of a first half in which they scored three times through Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.
“I’m very happy with what I see every day,” said Guardiola. “The mood in the dressing room is excellent, the training sessions are really, really good. Everyone helps each other.
Chris Mepham deepened Bournemouth’s concerns with an own goal just after the break.
It was a clinical display of City’s finish, looking like a goal on every attack, as the gap to leaders Arsenal was reduced to two points following the Gunners’ win on Saturday.
It was the first win of three for the champions, who lost two points to Nottingham Forest in their last league game before drawing the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 with RB Leipzig on Wednesday.
There were no such difficulties for Guardiola’s side on the south coast as they returned to winning ways with efficiency and style to stay hot on Arsenal’s heels.
Guardiola added: “It’s tough because we’ve played a lot of games away from home in the last month. No rest, three days between games, big trips. Lots of pressure, demanding physicality.
“Today we came here and acted the way we acted. It made me feel like we still have a desire to try and try. We’ll try to fight for this Premier League, I have no doubts about that.”
Even at 4-0 in the second half, you could see City’s players fighting tenaciously to try and save the goal they conceded.
Top scorer Haaland, whose first-half goal put him 27th in the league and a Premier League record all-time but seven goals for a season, was among the players trying to get the ball clear , as Bournemouth threatened to scramble out of a goal.
Guardiola said he expects no less from his players in their duty to the team’s fans who have traveled from Manchester.
“The players will get into trouble if they don’t do it,” said the coach. “You’re going to get in trouble. If the fans come in their cars for five or six hours, buy a ticket, with our salaries we have to run, whether it’s 3-0, 4-0, 5-0.
“It sounds like I’m a demagogue, but it’s the truth. You can do well or badly. But the performance at this club while I’m here will never be questioned.
“We see on their faces how happy they are when we win. They create a good feeling in people, families. Tell me something else that can be better. Our supporters abroad are amazing.”
Jerfferson Lerma’s late goal earned a brief cheer from the home fans after 83 minutes, but that had been the champions’ day.
Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil felt his side were performing well but were thwarted by individual errors that proved costly.
“Not matching them twice in our half would have been good,” O’Neil said. “I thought the performance was decent. We were penalized for a few mistakes.
“I thought we were at the front. Score aside, I found it uncomfortable for Man City.
“I thought we did really well but we were punished badly for a few mistakes. We didn’t take our chances. There was a lot of positive things to report.”