Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City had earned their toughest victory of the season after beating battling bottom side Sheffield United 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal as the leaders ground out their eighth successive win in the Premier League and a club-record 12th in a row in all competitions.
City controlled the majority of possession but Chris Wilder’s team limited them to few chances and almost snatched a late equaliser through John Fleck.
Guardiola said: “When I woke up and went out of my building I saw it was windy and freezing, and I said today will be the toughest game we are going to play this season.
“When you see Sheffield United, right now, bottom of the league you realise how the Premier League is the toughest league in the world.
“We struggle every season against them – the physicality, what they do. They have bad moments but the organisation of Chris’ team is outstanding.
“Our commitment was fantastic. We played really well. We didn’t create much but we conceded few again. I am grateful to my players for the victory we had. It was so, so difficult and we did it.”
City have been without their record goalscorer Sergio Aguero for much of the season and another key player in Kevin De Bruyne is currently sidelined.
Guardiola feels his side’s current form is a result of a collective effort.
The City boss said: “It is the quality of the team. We don’t have one player to win the games by himself or to score two or three goals every game.
“Our top scorers are not in the first 10 or 12 in the league, so we have to do it as a team. This is the only way, to maintain this and keep going in all the competitions.
“This period, the winter time, is the toughest in the Premier League and Covid is making a weird life for everyone.
“To go from the middle of December and through January, all victories, shows the personality of these players.
“I am looking forward to seeing when we drop points – because it will happen – how we react.”
The Blades remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just eight points but Wilder is determined to battle on.
Coming after a surprise win at Manchester United in midweek, Wilder felt the performance was another step in the right direction.
Blades manager Wilder said: “There is no pat on the back for a defeat but there is a manner, a body language and an identity and I think we are showing that, getting that back.
“It was not one-way traffic. There is something to build on. The Manchester City manager said we looked like a team that is alive and I believe that. I feel we’ve got plenty left in us.
“They are an incredible side, tactically brilliant and fluent. They can really take you to the cleaners and I’m delighted they didn’t.
“We stuck in the game and gave ourselves a tiny opportunity of getting something. Unfortunately we didn’t find that moment.”