Ilkay Gundogan insists Manchester City’s current brilliant form is not taken for granted and the players will not drop their guard as they look to regain the Premier League title.
The 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield made it 14 victories in a row in all competitions, equalling the record for top-flight sides set by Preston (ending in 1892) and Arsenal (ending in 1987).
Their five-point gap at the top of the table could be eight if they win the game in hand they have over the chasing pack and Gundogan said they have to maintain their high standards.
“We know it is still a long season and there are still many games to play,” he said.
“Probably the most important thing now is to stay humble and to approach every game like we did in the last few weeks and months.
“Every single game brings a new challenge, but it is always about taking these challenges and trying to make the best out of it.
“The Premier League is so competitive and maybe (it is) the most competitive year that we have had, so it is about every single game and opponent.
“We know we are in a very good moment but we shouldn’t take it for granted and not drop any edge and to keep going to do the stuff we have been doing as good as possible.
“Then, it can be a great and successful season for us.”
City’s form matches the Germany midfielder’s own as his two goals at Anfield took his tally to nine in his last 11 Premier League matches.
He accepts he is in the best form of his career in front of goal, having already surpassed his previous best of six in a season which he managed for City in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but does not believe the absence of injured playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has prompted him to step up.
“In terms of numbers it is by far the best season I have ever had but there are also different parts of the game,” added Gundogan, who shrugged off missing a penalty – City’s third failure from the spot this season – with the match still goalless.
“Personally it is nice to get on the scoresheet but I know also that there are a lot of experts who look at different stuff and probably also saw that in recent years I have played on the same level or maybe even better, but I didn’t score or assist a lot.
“For me, it is always about leaving everything on the pitch and leaving it with a good feeling in myself.
“It doesn’t matter if you score or not, it is about the feeling that I have after every single game. That is how I judge myself, to be honest.
“I don’t think Kevin’s absence has helped me – maybe I could have scored even more with his assists.
“It doesn’t matter who is next to me as there are so many talented players and so many players with a lot of quality, so every single player gets his chance and place to shine.”
Gundogan has earned the praise of manager Pep Guardiola, who said “he has an incredible sense to arrive in the right moment and the right tempo to score” – but there was also a recognition of the performance of Phil Foden.
The 20-year-old City academy graduate was handed the false nine role, with Gabriel Jesus left on the bench, and he played a big part in the victory, even when he was moved out to the right.
“When playing in the middle he sometimes has some difficulty understanding where he needs to be and where he needs to move, right now he is moving perfectly on the sides as a winger,” said Guardiola.
“The rhythm he plays as a winger he needs to play in the middle and he has time to improve.
“The second and fourth goals were outstanding, phenomenal. We cannot forget he is only 20 years old and has an incredible margin to improve and understand the game a little bit better.”