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"They will be real contenders" - Pep Guardiola speaks ahead of Manchester City's clash against Arsenal

Manchester City are running away with the Premier League
Manchester City are running away with the Premier League
Modified 21 Feb 2021

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has spoken ahead of tonight's visit to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. City are currently 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and are favourites to lift the title at the end of the season.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have had a roller-coaster of a season so far. Mikel Arteta's men started off 2021 in terrific form, but have faltered of late. The Gunners are coming into today's fixture off the back of a 1-1 draw against Benfica in the UEFA Europa League.

Pep Guardiola was full of praise for his former assistant coach's side. He told Express:

"We will have an incredible performance [from Arsenal]. They have an exceptional build-up, they move with many, many sense, all the movements they have for the build-up to the final third."

Guardiola also picked out three players who he believed to be the danger men for Arsenal on Sunday. He said:

"The quality for incredible energy, for Smith [Rowe], Saka and Aubameyang, especially with his runs in behind, and all the players that they have in the middle. In the early future they will be real contenders to fight for the titles."

Arsenal lost the reverse fixture 1-0 earlier this season. The Gunners haven't beaten Manchester City in the Premier League since 2015. Mikel Arteta's side, however, did knock out his former employers in the FA Cup semi-finals last season.

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola full of praise for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta was a former assistant coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City
Mikel Arteta was a former assistant coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City

Pep Guardiola was quick to come to the support of Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, as question marks persist over the Spaniard's future due to an underwhelming campaign so far. Arteta was part of Guardiola's staff before leaving Manchester City to become Arsenal's manager. Guardiola told Express:

"All I can say is the last months show me that all managers need time and he is not an exception. What I see in the last two months, every game Arsenal played is better than the opponent."

The Manchester City boss was also dismissive of the idea that he is a huge influence on Arteta's tactics and how the Gunners' boss sets up his team. Guardiola said:

"I did not inspire him, what he knows he knows for himself. I am not any influence. What he is doing, all credit to him and his backroom staff."
Published 21 Feb 2021, 16:04 IST
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