Pep Guardiola singled out Bernardo Silva after another virtuoso display ensured his huge claim in midweek didn’t leave him red-faced.
Manchester City ascended to the summit of the Premier League after comfortably despatching Watford at Vicarage Road.
Chelsea’s slip at West Ham in the lunchtime kick-off left the door ajar for a new leader of the pack. Liverpool left it late when sinking Wolves to take temporary top spot, but City had no such struggles against the Hornets.
A thoroughly convincing display saw Raheem Sterling open the scoring. The player Guardiola believes is the best in England then bagged a brace. Indeed, the Spaniard suggested in midweek that Bernardo Silva – not Mohamed Salah, as many would suggest – is currently the best player in the Premier League.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Guardiola said: “A really good performance. We missed lot of chances, hopefully next time we’ll convert more.
“The game should be over quicker. We are in the routine that we’re consistent in the way we play. In football the most difficult thing is to put the ball in the net. But the way we played was really good again.
“We saw the games against United, Chelsea, Leicester, they created a lot of chances by running on the counter, we stopped that today.
“We scored three beautiful goals and we could have scored more.”
On Bernardo Silva who produced yet another flawless display, Guardiola said: “I want to say thank you, because after what I said [in midweek about Silva being the best in the league currently], the performance he has done – he didn’t make me wrong. So thank you. He did me well. He is so important for us.”
Guardiola concluded by saying of Jack Grealish, who was afforded greater responsibility in the build-up than usual: “I asked Jack if he enjoyed playing in this position touching the ball lots, he said yes.
“But still it’s a bit away from his best condition, he had some days off, he needs rhythm, but it’s good. We have players that can play in different positions.”
Silva assesses fierce title race with Liverpool, Chelsea
Double goalscorer Bernardo Silva also spoke to the press, telling Sky Sports: “It was definitely a very good job in the first half. The team started very well, creating chances and not allowing them to counter-attack. We scored two in the first half but should have scored more.
“It’s always better to be top of the league than second, third or fourth, but it’s still early. It’s so close – Liverpool are just one point behind us, Chelsea are two points behind us.
“Liverpool and Chelsea are having an amazing season. It’s tough for us to compete with each other. We know the level and standards are very high. We know how tough it is to win the most competitive league in the world. We’re going to try our best, like we always do.
“This season I’ve been scoring a lot and I’ll try to keep it that way. What matters is that we’re top of the league now and the team are doing very well at the moment. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles.
“My first four goals this season were all tap-ins. My last few goals have been quite good, but it doesn’t matter – what matters is putting the ball in the back of the net. I’m happy to help the team.
“We know we don’t have a striker. [We] have a lot of players who try to get in the box and finish. We try to put numbers in the box. If we arrive in the box, we’re going to score goals.
“We’re happy with the moment and happy with our form. We have to keep working because this season is going to be very tough.”