While Guardiola could not have been clearer about his own future, uncertainty persists over that of Ilkay Gundogan. The German impressed again in a holding midfield role in the absence of the injured Fernandinho against Watford but he is out of contract at the end of the season and, with talks over a new deal still to come to anything, Guardiola admitted the 28-year-old could leave. “I would prefer he stays, really, but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay, too,” Guardiola said. “If he doesn’t want to stay, he has to leave. But we would like to continue next season and that we have a longer time together. He doesn’t want it right now so we will wait. When he wants it, we will be here.”
Watford was City’s tenth win in 11 top flight games as they bid to become the first club to retain the Premier League title for a decade and Vincent Kompany cited Raheem Sterling’s 15-minute hat-trick as further evidence of his rapid ascent to the top of the game. Although City benefited from a controversial offside error for Sterling’s first goal that will doubtless antagonise their title rivals Liverpool, the champions ended up cruising to victory after a frustrating first half.
“He has an amazing drive to develop,” the City captain said of Sterling. “It’s incredible because his first year at City was tough and then from the moment Pep came in he just kicked on and went from strength to strength. For me, he is one of the best wingers in the world. He’s so important for us. To have the ability to unlock defences when teams defend with so many bodies is the sign of a top player.
“A lot of young players that were in the team last season had never won the Premier League. They have now. A lot of the players last season still had to prove they were big players – they are big players now.”
Watford scored from their only shot on target when substitutes Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu combined just 17 seconds after coming on, ending a remarkable run lasting 196 minutes in which City did not concede a single shot of any kind to the opposition. Bournemouth failed to muster a shot against City in their 1-0 defeat last weekend and West Ham United could not manage an attempt in the final 40 minutes of their recent defeat at City. “As long as we keep these kind of numbers up, the odds will be in our favour,” Kompany said.