Soccer-Guardiola delighted with City form at crunch time


Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Luton Town - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 13, 2024 Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted REUTERS/Molly Darlington

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Sitting atop the Premier League table in a tantalisingly tight title race is no source of comfort, said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who is more pleased with the form his team is showing at a crucial point of the season.

Champions City climbed to the summit -- for at least 24 hours -- with a 5-1 thrashing of relegation-threatened Luton Town on Saturday, but they lead Arsenal and Liverpool by only two points and both rivals have a game in hand.

"I don't think so," Guardiola said when asked if there was a psychological boost to being top.

"Arsenal and Liverpool, they want to be there," he added. "We play the way we did against Crystal Palace (a 4-2 victory), against Madrid (a 3-3 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final) and play really good especially in the second half, today five more (goals)."

Striker Erling Haaland extended his league leading scoring record with his 20th goal of the season, from the penalty spot, but City's remarkable depth was on display at Etihad Stadium with Mateo Kovacic, Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol also netting.

City, bidding for a fourth Premier League title in a row, host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday before heading to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

Before kickoff against Luton, Guardiola told his players to cherish the position they are in.

"I said 'Guys, what a privilege', after what we have done the previous season (winning the treble), and still fighting for the Premier League, Wednesday we're going to play against Real Madrid for a chance to qualify for the semi-final with all the energy our fans will bring, and FA Cup next Saturday against Chelsea to reach final again.

"So, what a privilege to live here, so try to extend one more week and one more week and one more week."

Arsenal host Aston Villa and Liverpool entertain Crystal Palace on Sunday.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing, editing by Ed Osmond)

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