PEP GUARDIOLA said he wanted to ‘smell’ the desire in his squad to win this title.
Well it filled the air at The Etihad last night.
That unquenchable desire he has instilled in this club to win, win again and win more.
He laid down the challenge in case anyone was thinking of putting their feet up after placing another piece of silverware in the club cabinet on Sunday.
He wants the Carabao Cup to be just a taster for what is to come.
The first course is done with, there are three more to come.
The Champions League, the FA Cup and the bid to retain this Premier League.
A bid briefly derailed by three defeats in four games back in December but now fully back on course with now eight wins from the last nine.
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Neck and neck they are with Liverpool, yet still favourites for many.
The last time Liverpool were this close visiting manager Manuel Pellegrini nicked it off them as Manchester City boss.
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The fact many still see that 2014 Premier League as the one Liverpool threw away demeans it slightly.
It should not. They played some tremendous football that season under Pellegrini.
Still even his City at it’s best was nothing like we are seeing now under Guardiola.
A team that takes teams apart with remorseless regularity.
So while Pellegrini will have enjoyed the welcome he got from the fans there was little to enjoy on the pitch.
No quarter was given by City, another maximum three points banked.
In addressing the small gap to Liverpool the City boss said:
“The only thing we can do is put on pressure to they feel we are there and we are going to win and win and win again.”
And while Liverpool did so at home to Watford so City did here.
The scoreline was narrow, the balance of play certainly wasn’t.
The first half was spent almost entirely in West Ham’s half.
Even their own fans enjoyed some gallows humour when each pass was cheered when they were finally allowed to string a few together.
Andy Carroll, captain for the night in this only his fourth start of the season did not have a chance.
Nobody in a West Ham shirt did and yet by half time they somehow found themselves level.
The main reason for that was City’s inability to match their fine build-up play with a finish.
Pep’s men pinged the ball around. It is mesmerising stuff at times. The chances came but went as well.
The first arrived after three minutes when a great ball in from the footballing magician that is David Silva was side footed over by Riyad Mahrez.
Silva himself then got on the end of a low Kevin De Bruyne ball in but his clever flick found the far post and came out again.
Sergio Aguero was twisting and turning to create and find space.
He too tried to break the deadlock with a clever flick but was well wide.
The Argentine also had a shout for a penalty when his shot hit the elbow of a diving Angelo Ogbonna but referee Stuart Attwell deemed there had been no intent.
So level they stayed.
Samir Nasri’s heat map would have left an Eskimo cold so it was little surprise when Pellegrini hooked him at the break for Manuel Lanzini.
It was a change that almost brought immediate dividends when Lanzini’s trickery and cross to an unmarked Carroll gave him a chance with a shot at the far post superbly saved by Ederson.
There were five changes to the City side that won the Carabao Cup including Raheem Sterling being rested.
Well, until the 55th minute when Guardiola knew he needed the inform England international’s brilliance.
Soon after Bernardo was on to for a less than impressed Leroy Sane.
It would be he who just moments later won a penalty to open the scoring.
There had just been another big shout for a spot kick when Barnardo charged into the area and was deemed to have been shoved over by Felipe Anderson.
It was soft to put it mildly.
Up stepped Aguero and he calmly rolled the ball into the bottom right hand corner while Lukasz Fabianski headed in the other direction.
That was in the 59th minute and in the 64th City almost had their second.
Sterling had a shot saved, Bernardo beat the ‘keeper with the follow-up but Ryan Fredericks blocked it just in front of the line.
Sterling was flying and quickly followed that up with a curling shot that was well saved again.
It would remain at just one, as does the gap of a point.
The title still beckons. City can smell it.