Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have got themselves in position to strike heading into their crunch Premier League clash with leaders Arsenal.
The champions cut the gap to the Gunners at the top of the table to three points with a 3-1 victory over relegation-threatened Leicester at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Their next game in the competition is when they host Mikel Arteta’s side on April 26 and – although Arsenal can move further ahead in the two league games they have before then – Guardiola feels City are now well poised.
The City manager said: “Like I said lately, it is win, win and win.
“They have had an incredible run this season and I don’t think they are going to drop many points, so what we have to do is be there.
“It was important for us to win today to arrive for the ‘final’ we have against them in the next Premier League game.”
City all but secured their latest victory – their 10th in succession in all competitions – inside the opening 25 minutes.
John Stones opened the scoring after five minutes and Erling Haaland followed with a double, taking his overall tally for the campaign to a remarkable 47 from 40 appearances.
Kelechi Iheanacho pulled one back and hit a post, while James Maddison also had a good chance in a nervy finish, but City’s success never seemed in doubt.
Guardiola had made just three changes following the midweek win over Bayern Munich and felt that had been important to maintain momentum.
“We started really well,” he said. “I thought days ago about making rotation but I have experience of that in previous seasons.
“When you rotate a lot of the team, they drop a lot. I made just two or three changes.
“After the goal conceded we struggled a lot. When there are a lot of substitutions you drop a little bit.
“If Maddison had scored a goal, I don’t know what would have happened as football is unpredictable. It’s over when it’s over but game we played in general I am really satisfied with.”
Haaland’s double equalled the record of 32 goals for a 38-game Premier League season.
Guardiola said: “I want him to break all the records possible. That means he’s scored a lot of goals, and that means he’s helped us.”
It was a tough afternoon for Leicester in Dean Smith’s first match in charge but the new manager saw enough to give him confidence.
The Foxes remain in the bottom three after nine games without a win.
Smith said: “I think I learned an awful lot.
Safe journey home, Blue Army! ? pic.twitter.com/5jx54pPSa8
— Leicester City (@LCFC) April 15, 2023
“We came here with a plan – to stay in the game. My natural instinct would be to attack but I’ve seen too many top teams do that here and end up on a hiding.
“I didn’t want that to happen but we conceded two goals in the first 13 minutes.
“We suffered for 25 minutes but I saw enough to know there is a lot of character in the players and it is my job to get that out of them.”