MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola says he’s not interested in records and is more concerned with securing his first Premier League title with Manchester City after his side broke the record for completed passes in a Premier League match on Sunday.
His side moved 18 points clear at the top with a thoroughly dominant 1-0 victory over reigning champions Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium thanks to Bernardo Silva’s second-half goal.
City need four victories from their final nine matches to be absolutely certain of winning the title but, with 78 points already, they could potentially break Chelsea’s points record of 95 for a season set in 2004-05.
“What really matters is to be champions,” Guardiola told a news conference. “I never spoke with the players about the records. I never [said] we have to win the two games to achieve something.
“Against Basel we are going to try to play the way we played today and Stoke City we are going to try and play like we play all season. That’s is what I want to see. After, at the end, we will see.
“We are not going to play for the records. We are going to play to win the game. And after, the records will be a consequence. Records are always a consequence of what you have done but they are not the main thing.”
Despite the narrow scoreline, the victory over Chelsea was a completely one-sided game with City having 71 percent possession and restricting Antonio Conte’s side to just three shots off target.
And City did break one record in the match with 902 passes against Chelsea — more than any team has managed in a single Premier League game since the stat began being recorded. They surpassed their own record of 843, set against West Bromwich Albion last October.
“We try to play with the ball, we try with our power like a team, it’s what we want to do,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes it is more complicated when teams are aggressive.
“Today they were so organised today, it is like they played against Barcelona in the Champions League. We spoke about it, to be patient, move the ball quick, don’t make too many touches, and control the counter-attack from Hazard, Willian and Pedro because in that situation they are so good at it.
“Now we need three or four victories to be champions.”
It’s an incredible turnaround from last season, when Chelsea were the only side to win at the Etihad Stadium as they finished 15 points clear of City.
Sunday’s defeat left them 25 points behind City. And Guardiola admitted he couldn’t have expected such a change in form.
“No way, no. Who could believe it?” he said. “I think if you ask the players, the players neither. In terms of not just the results but the way we played, today was another demonstration.
“We had the same desire as at Stamford Bridge and that is what pleases me the most.
“I didn’t expect it after what happened in the previous season — to have the distance, 25 to Chelsea, 33 to Arsenal, 19 to United, who play tomorrow, 18 to [Liverpool]. It’s a lot.
“Tottenham, Liverpool and United they made a good result, a good pace but we were so far so good in terms of we drop points but after four or five wins.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.