Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola is expecting a tough game against Arsenal on Wednesday. The Citizens will visit the Emirates Stadium at 7.30 pm (UK time) or 9:30 (CAT) in what promises to be a high-stakes Premier League match.
If Manchester City win, they will move to the top of the table, replacing Mikel Arteta’s side. However, it is not going to be an easy task against a team that Pep Guardiola himself has praised. In his pre-match press conference, the City manager said, “So far, they are the best team in the Premier League, they made an incredible first round, first leg of the league.”
Guardiola is under no illusions about the challenge his team faces, especially considering Arsenal’s excellent form this season. “We felt it a few weeks ago when we played in the FA Cup here, how committed, sharp and everything,” he added.
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The Manchester City manager knows that this summit meeting is an important one, with forensic focus around the fact that first plays second in the top-flight. But he also stressed that there are still ‘many games to play’ between now and the end of the season.
Guardiola’s team cut the gap to three points at the weekend with a victory over Aston Villa. The boss said that their unity has remained the same through good and difficult times this season. “Listen, after [beating] Arsenal [in the FA Cup] there wasn’t suddenly this togetherness,” he said.
Guardiola’s Manchester City side are known for their togetherness and resilience, especially in the face of adversity. The City manager emphasized the importance of staying united, saying, “Always I handle incredible human beings and incredible football players since I’ve been here. I don’t complain once. Everyone makes mistakes – I’m the first, everyone has their own personalities and tries to live together.”
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Guardiola has always been a manager who believes in the collective over the individual. He insists that it is the unity within the team that has kept them strong this season. “More or less, these years we have been perfectly together, players, club, staff, backroom staff. The mood is really good and has been for many years,” he added.
Victory over Arsenal on Wednesday would see Manchester City go back to the top of the table, although Mikel Arteta’s side will have a game in hand. However, with another clash between the two sides to come at the Etihad Stadium in April, the chances of a third title would stay in City’s hands.
Guardiola says there is still a long way to go in the season and that a win would not give a psychological edge. “Of course it’s important because we can take the points and the best team so far they can’t,” he said. “But after, we have to go to Nottingham Forest and the Champions League, and we have the next six fixtures away.”
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The Manchester City boss is aware that there is no time to rest on their laurels. He is focused on taking things one step at a time and not getting ahead of himself. “I have the feeling that many things can happen. So the FA Cup and Champions League is knockout, and then we try to arrive in the final eight to 10 Premier League games being there. This is the deal, the target and tomorrow will help us to be there in the last eight to 10 games.”
Guardiola’s team has many tough games ahead, both at home and away, against all the title contenders. “There are many tough games away and home for all the contenders,” he said. “Of course, we can’t deny it’s so important for us. If we handle all the aspects these types of games give to you, it’s a big difference.”
Watch the full pre-match press conference via the video below.