Fernandinho believes Manchester City’s victory over Arsenal on Sunday could prove a key one in the title race.
City got the better of one of their top-six rivals as they triumphed 3-1 in a controversial Premier League contest at the Etihad Stadium.
The Gunners had grievances over two of City’s goals, with their manager Arsene Wenger accusing Raheem Sterling of diving to win the penalty that led to their second, scored by Sergio Aguero.
Wenger also thought David Silva and goalscorer Gabriel Jesus were offside in the build-up to the third.
That aside, City – who took an early lead through Kevin De Bruyne – were the dominant team and were good value for a victory that lifted them eight points clear at the top of the table.
Brazil midfielder Fernandinho said: “Without a shadow of a doubt it was an important victory for us and we’re on the top of the league for the international break.”
City have collected 31 points from their opening 11 games – a record for this stage of a Premier League season – and have scored 38 goals in the process, 15 more than next best Manchester United.
Their winning run of 15 successive games in all competitions, which includes the penalty shootout victory over Wolves in the Carabao Cup, is also a club record.
Arsenal tried to combat them by pressing high up the field but City continually threatened on the counter-attack and were frustrated largely by their own wastefulness.
Gunners substitute Alexandre Lacazette did reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the second half but City finished strongly.
Fernandinho said: “We weren’t able to construct our game as usual, so we had to try long passes, but even so we could create chances in the first half.
“In the second half we were winning, so they had to come more offensive and we had more spaces to play. Since we have fast players, we were able to score two more goals.
“From last season, we’ve now found a good balance. Personally, I’m happy because the team is playing well, winning games and I’m contributing in a good way both on defence and attack.”
Despite City’s superiority, Arsenal were frustrated not to get something out of the game. At 1-0 Aaron Ramsey forced a good save out of Ederson and then followed the debate over the penalty incident, when Nacho Monreal was adjudged to have bundled Sterling over.
Lacazette did keep the game alive but the visitors were undone when the flag stayed down for Silva to tee up Jesus in the 74th minute. The result left Arsenal in sixth and trailing City by 12 points.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech told www.arsenal.com: “We had passages of play where we matched them, controlled the ball and looked dangerous.
“But inevitably they have a huge quality up front and when they managed to find the right passes and the right movement, they created some opportunities.
“I thought that at 2-1 we were in it. We had time to search for the equaliser but the third goal obviously made a huge difference. They are an experienced team with a lot of quality and they took advantage of that.”