Pep Guardiola rates Arsenal’s title chances ahead of Man City clash
Pep Guardiola is confident Arsenal, along with Liverpool, will provide Manchester City’s sternest competition in their bid to retain the Premier League title.
Last season’s top two go head-to-head at the Emirates on Sunday with just a solitary point between them after the opening seven matches of the new campaign.
City had been flawless until last weekend’s shock defeat at Wolves, a result which Arsenal were able to capitalise on by strolling to a comfortable 4-0 win over Bournemouth.
If they are, however, to prove a genuine threat the dominance of Guardiola’s relentless winning machine, they will have to find a way of ending their abysmal record against City.
The Gunners have lost 12 consecutive Premier League games against the reigning champions and with injury concerns over Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, confidence is wavering ahead of this weekend’s acid test.
Guardiola, however, believes he has seen enough evidence already from Mikel Arteta’s men, as well as a rejuvenated Liverpool, to be sure his side won’t have it all their own way this season.
‘Absolutely,’ said Guardiola when asked if he saw Arsenal as genuine rivals. ‘Among Liverpool, from what we have seen.
‘But to analyse the contenders in the first 10 games, and we haven’t even played that, we have to wait. But the big clubs will be contenders.
‘They are a good team, they make man-marking sometimes, allow you to do some process, but after they are so aggressive.
‘They have a clear pattern and really good team. They fought to be Premier League champions [last season] and now they’re here again.
‘Arsenal are back. When I was a young boy and at Barcelona, Arsenal always were there and now they’re back. Going to the Emirates is one of the toughest ones.’
On the significance of the game, Guardiola added: ‘Play it down, the second leg against Arsenal, when they come here [to the Etihad Stadium], it’ll be different with a lot on the line. What I want is to arrive in February qualified for Champions League knock-out stages.
‘To be close in the competition, close to top of the Premier League, the distance short and have the last 10 games in our competition: ‘Let’s go again.’