Mahrez joined City from Leicester for a fee of £60million in 2018 as the winger eclipsed De Bruyne as the club’s record signing (£55m in 2015). Gundogan, meanwhile, cost City approximately £20m in 2016.
All three midfielders found the net as Guardiola’s team again increased the gap between themselves and second-placed rivals Man United – who beat City 2-0 in last weekend’s derby – while James Ward-Prowse scored from the spot and Che Adams was also on target for Southampton.
“The first 15, 20 minutes, they were just exceptional. Big compliments for Southampton, the way they play is fantastic – it’s a joy to watch, it’s a present for the spectators […] That’s why I like the Premier League – you play games like today, so difficult, so tough.
“Today, Manchester City won [due to] the quality of the players we have on the pitch, the players up front made the difference.
“The money we spend, that is the reason why we won today.”
Guardiola felt his side should have had a penalty following a moment in which Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy appeared to foul Phil Foden, with the England midfielder remaining on his feet and looking to continue playing before a VAR check confirmed no spot-kick would be given.
“It’s just incredible. It’s just incredible that the penalty was not given,” Guardiola said. “Maybe one day [someone] is going to explain to us why.
“Jon cannot see it has happened, but VAR is there for this. I do not understand it. It’s a tough, tough situation for referees, that’s why VAR is here to help.
“That’s made me incredibly happy that in these four-and-a-half years, everything we have won is absolutely for us. [No one] gave us anything, anything, zero.
“Our effort and our quality make us what we achieve, and now we are 14 points clear […] and a step closer to winning the Premier League.”
Guardiola praised Foden for staying on his feet, saying: “That’s for sure, he wants to play, he wants to score a goal. Give us a lot of credit, for sure we are not cheating, that’s for sure.”