Pep Guardiola believes Man City would be challenging for more than a Champions League spot had Vincent Kompany, Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan avoided injury.
Guardiola praised his Belgian skipper and admitted the option to utilise him throughout the season would have aided the Blues’ title hopes.
“Vincent is top quality,” he declared. “Anyone can discuss his quality.
“The problem has been his injuries but finally he is back and can stay fit for us. That is what we want – not just for Vincent – but all our players.
“I feel sorry for Manuel Pellegrini because he could not use Kompany last season.
“He is a real central defender in his passing but he is more than just a centre defender – he has a great passion, vision and he is dangerous in set-pieces.
“It was a set-piece that opened the game [against Southampton]. Vincent is very dangerous.
“He wins duels, finds the space to play the ball through and hopefully, he can stay fit for us for the remainder of the season.
“The problem is the past two or three years where he has missed a lot of football.
Reflecting on the victory, Guardiola added: “I am very happy with the way we played.
“We were finally able to make 20 to 25 passes and create many chances.
“The first half was not easy to find the right spaces but we created enough chances in the to score. After we scored, there was more space in the game for us to counter.
“We dealt with their attacks very well and the crosses from Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini. They are so, so dangerous but we have the players to counter-attack in Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
“Silva and De Bruyne I think have played well together this season. We are now able to make a lot of passes. These two are amazing and very intelligent players. The most difficult thing is to keep the balance.
“In the second half – after the set-piece goal – we were able to counter and kill the game. This was a big result as there are four teams fighting for the last two places for the Champions League.
“Liverpool and Manchester United have a game. If Liverpool slip up, we stay third but we need to focus on our own results.
“Tottenham [in second] are a strong team. We realised that again.
“We have more points than last season with seven games remaining – our problem has been at home. If you want to win the Premier League, you have to be strong at home.
“This victory was important for our confidence, heading into the semi-final with Arsenal.”