(Reuters) - West Ham United's rise to fourth place in the Premier League at this stage of the campaign is down to the big strides they have made under the experienced David Moyes, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
West Ham, who finished 16th last season, beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 last weekend to extend their unbeaten run in the league to four games, pushing themselves into contention for a spot in next season's Champions League.
"They're in a Champions League position. That's not a good run, it's many months and they're there. It means how strong they are," Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday's clash between the teams at the Etihad Stadium.
"What I saw is the rhythm has increased a lot on previous seasons. They have fantastic players like Declan Rice. I'm a big admirer of him and (Michail) Antonio is always a headache for his movements.
"Moyes, I admire this type of person like (Roy) Hodgson. They have incredibly long careers. I'd love to have these careers for many years and the passion to do the job."
City are in a purple patch of their own having won their 19th straight game in all competitions by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday but, Guardiola said he was not targeting records.
"The challenge isn't to do 20 or 21, it's to beat West Ham. This is the only challenge we have," Guardiola, whose side have a 10-point advantage over Manchester United at the top of the league, added.
"The results are a consequence of what we do day by day.
"... It's a real tough game tomorrow because all the big clubs suffer against them. A good team."
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)