Fighting Words | 

Pep Guardiola warns Arsenal will ‘have to prise the title out of our hands’

City are seeking to win the title for the fifth time in six seasons under Guardiola

Pep Guardiola© PA


Pep Guardiola has delivered an ominous warning to Arsenal ahead of Manchester City’s visit to the Emirates tonight, declaring that the Premier League leaders will have to prise the title out of his defending champions’ hands.

City are seeking to win the title for the fifth time in six seasons under Guardiola, and the seventh in the past dozen years of Abu Dhabi ownership.

But City have had to bounce back from a mid-season dip in form that allowed Arsenal and Guardiola’s former lieutenant Mikel Arteta to open an eight-point lead at the top of the table as recently as the middle of last month. Victory for City tonight, however, and they will move into first place and complete an overhaul of those points in one day short of four weeks.

That, and what Guardiola describes as a renewed focus from his squad, has moved him to issue his “threat” to any pretenders to City’s crown.

“You want it? OK, fight, take it. It’s in our hands,” said Guardiola. “We’ll defend this title until the last day. This is what I’d like. To fight to the maximum to try to retain the title. But we need to give our best. My players have to feel that every day.

“The biggest motivation is that I don’t want to drop the Premier League just because we are not who we are. If they beat us because they are better, then this is sport, I’ll be the first to congratulate them. But not because we are not there.”

Two defeats in five games early this year means City have already suffered more defeats this season – four – than they did in the whole of the previous campaign.

Guardiola, who cites the last time his team were attempting a hat-trick of titles in 2020 as the worst campaign of his reign, insists he has seen a recent return to old standards, and of his players’ old “fire”.

“It’s happened quite similar to previous seasons when we’ve won,” he said. “Arsenal has an incredible history, bigger than us in terms of titles. But not recently. They have something special that we don’t have because we won it recently.

“We have to find another trick, other ways, to find the fire as a team and individually to say that we can still do it. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be second. We’d be far, far away. We are still there.”

Guardiola is hoping striker Erling Haaland shows no lingering effects from the thigh injury that forced him off at half-time of the weekend win over Aston Villa.

The 31-goal striker took part in training yesterday ahead of a fitness test.

Today's Headlines

More Soccer

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos