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Pep Guardiola not interested in debating whether Man City are world’s best team

Manchester City v Fulham – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Isaac Parkin)

Pep Guardiola brushed off suggestions Manchester City are the best side in the world after moving 12 points clear in the Premier League.

The champions saw off Brentford 2-0 on Wednesday to tighten their already firm grip on the title race.

Their form continues to attract plaudits but manager Guardiola, who felt his team had needed to dig deep and be patient to see off the Bees, claimed only to be interested in results.

He said: “We are not the best team in the world. The best team is Chelsea, who won the Champions League, or River Plate, who won in South America.

“The important thing is we won the game and in three days we go to Norwich and have to win again.

“This type of thing about who is the best, I don’t care. Just be happy and try to play better every day.”

City dominated the first half against the Bees but initially struggled to stretch their opponents, who sat deep.

It took a 40th-minute penalty from Riyad Mahrez after a foul on Raheem Sterling for them to break through.

City stretched their Premier League lead

City stretched their Premier League lead (Martin Rickett/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne made victory certain in the 69th minute after an error by Brentford goalkeeper David Raya.

Guardiola said: “It was a really tough game. They defended with high pressing man to man and when you break this press they defend so deep and compact, there are no spaces.

“We had to be patient, make no mistakes. Thanks to good movement from John Stones to break the lines and a good action from Raheem for the penalty, then the second half was much better.

“It was an important victory. We knew it would be a tough game.”

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Guardiola singled out Stones, who played at right-back as Kyle Walker was rested, for additional praise.

He said: “He played against Leeds in that position. Today he was more than brilliant, the most important player in the final third. He was perfect.”

Mahrez’s penalty was the seventh successful conversion from the spot in a row for City, ending the club’s past problems from 12 yards.

Guardiola said: “Riyad is now a guarantee. He is so clever. He can shoot on both sides and effectively to the corners.”

Mahrez impressed again from the spot

Mahrez impressed again from the spot (Martin Rickett/PA)

Brentford boss Thomas Frank felt his side gave a good account of themselves but rued the errors that led to both goals.

“From a defensive perspective we were almost perfect,” Frank said. “But the two goals – the penalty we should never give sway, don’t slide slide down in the penalty area, and the second goal was a bad mistake.

“We made it difficult for them. The structure, discipline and mentality were there but those decisive moments, we didn’t take them, and we got punished at the other end.

“We made those mistakes but the overall performance will give us confidence.”

The loss was the Bees’ fifth in succession in the Premier League but Frank is backing his players to reverse the slump.

He said: “It is very important we look at the work ethic and the attitude – a top attitude – and performances have been really good.

“We have to keep the performance and the mentality and stay positive, then we will be fine.”

Striker Ivan Toney missed the game with a calf injury but could return for Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace.

“I hope so, fingers crossed,” said Frank. “We will assess him every day.”

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