Pep Guardiola is confident his Manchester City side will secure an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title this season.
Yet their current form has prompted some observers to wonder if the team still retain the hunger to triumph again after last season’s treble success.
Guardiola, however, has no doubt and has sent out a strong message to rivals that there is no complacency within his squad.
“My feeling today is we’re going to win the Premier League,” said the City manager at a press conference to preview Wednesday’s game at Aston Villa.
“If we play at the levels that we showed against Liverpool and Tottenham, we’re going to win it again.
“People don’t believe it already after three draws but we feel we’re going to do it again, knowing that it is not easy because no team has done it yet (won four in a row).
“The difficulty is there and was last season but, if you ask me today what I’m feeling, we’re going to do it again.”
Guardiola does not even think his players need to use the sense of injustice from the controversial end to Sunday’s clash with Spurs – when Erling Haaland was denied the chance to play advantage after being fouled – to fuel them.
He said: “We never use these kind of situations. Today the motivation is to try and do better.
“Sometimes decisions help you, sometimes they don’t. I learn that if you want to win something you have to do it much, much better than the opponents.”
City have been charged with failing to control their players by the Football Association following the stormy end to the 3-3 draw against Spurs.
A number of the team, notably Haaland, surrounded referee Simon Hooper to protest after he pulled back play to award a free-kick. Haaland had felt play should go on after he had got up following a bad challenge from Emerson Royal to release Jack Grealish through on goal.
Haaland continued his complaints after the game, going on to criticise Hooper in a social media post, but the Norwegian is not facing any individual action from the FA.
When asked about this, Guardiola preferred to highlight some of the more magnanimous comments from his players about the incident and defended their general conduct.
He said: “We’ve behaved incredibly this season in our not good results or decisions that are sometimes against us.
“When after the game, the comments from my players accepting we can do better is what I want to see from my team and my club.
“After that, we’ll accept all the decisions from the Premier League or whatever.”