Pep Guardiola believes free-scoring Man City are peaking at right time
By Andy Hampson, PA
Pep Guardiola feels his Manchester City side are hitting their stride as they approach the business end of the season.
The champions have fallen below their usual high levels of consistency this term but have found form over the past month and are firmly in contention in three competitions heading into the international break.
City thrashed runaway Championship leaders Burnley 6-0 on Saturday to power into the FA Cup quarter-finals.
That came four days after a 7-0 demolition of RB Leipzig that eased them into the last eight of the Champions League, while they remain the closest challengers to Arsenal in the Premier League.
City have won their last six matches in all competitions and are unbeaten in 10 stretching back to the first week of February.
“We are in a good moment,” said Guardiola. “Against Newcastle we were good to handle an incredible opponent, then after, Leipzig and Crystal Palace, always we suffer.
“But we scored a lot of goals and conceded few chances and were stable with everyone making contributions.
“We defended well, we are a threat in the set-pieces like never before. In the last six or seven years I never had the feeling we could score in every corner or free-kick.
“Now we stop and go to the national teams and then after we have the Reds (Liverpool). We have time to think about it, but now we know Arsenal are going to drop few points so we will have to win almost all the games.
“The rivals for the Champions League, a historical team, it is an honour to play against Bayern (Munich) and the (FA Cup) semi-final at Wembley again is an incredible honour.
“At this stage, to still be alive in three competitions is so nice, so good.”
City showed their revered former captain Vincent Kompany no mercy on the field as they ruthlessly dismantled his Burnley team at the Etihad Stadium.
Erling Haaland led the way with yet another hat-trick, his sixth of the campaign, taking his overall goal tally for the club to a staggering 42 in 37 appearances.
Julian Alvarez weighed in with a double and youngster Cole Palmer also got on the scoresheet after coming off the bench.
“I have the feeling the players now know we cannot lose, otherwise it will be over,” said Guardiola.
“When you have this urgency we can mount our best. That is the reality.”
The result was a sobering one for Burnley, who look almost certain to secure promotion back to the top flight after an impressive campaign.
Kompany hopes his players will benefit from the experience.
The Belgian, who won 10 major trophies as a player with City, said: “We got seriously beat, but I hope we will react to this, not just brush it aside, and use it as motivation to get better.
“I want to play these games again, again and again, until it works, until we succeed – but we’ve got to get better first.”