Arsenal 'back' as long-term title contenders - Guardiola

6 months ago 86
Football Focus: Man City in the driving seat but Arsenal can be confident

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said Arsenal would be long-term Premier League title contenders, before the two sides meet in the top flight on Sunday.

Arsenal, who finished second behind City last year, are unbeaten in the league this season.

Guardiola's side lost to Wolves last weekend but are one point ahead of the Gunners.

"They were the biggest rival last season and will stay there for a long time," Guardiola said.

Asked if Arsenal would be title rivals this season, he added: "Absolutely, along with Liverpool. To analyse contenders, the idea is the first 10 games. We have to wait but big clubs are always contenders.

"Arsenal is back. When I was a young boy and starting as a manager at Barcelona I know they fought Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United team.

"Then for many years they were not there but now they're back.

"When you see in the calendar it says you go to the Emirates [you know] it's a tougher one."

Arsenal have lost their past 12 league matches against City and are without a top-flight win in the fixture since 2015.

However, they beat Guardiola's side in the Community Shield on penalties, and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is confident his side can match that result at Emirates Stadium.

Arteta is not a 'mini me' - Guardiola

"My only worry is the quality of the opponent and on Sunday we have to be at our best for 100 minutes," Arteta said.

"That's what we can control and we need to focus.

"In these big games you need big players with talent who make it count. Duels are a big thing in a game which can go one way or another."

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is a major doubt after limping off during the Champions League defeat by Lens.

Gabriel Martinelli is expected to miss a sixth successive game because of a hamstring issue.

City are without midfielder Rodri who will serve the final game of a three-match ban.

Bernardo Silva is available after returning to the squad in midweek, while John Stones and Kevin de Bruyne have both been ruled out.

Michael Brown looks ahead to the clash between Arsenal and Manchester City

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

Arsenal have lost 15 of the past 16 meetings, including 12 consecutive Premier League defeatsThe Gunners' last two wins over City have come in FA Cup semi-finals: 2-0 in 2020 and 2-1 in 2017Arsenal have gone 16 top-flight games against Manchester City without keeping a clean sheetCity are the only side that Mikel Arteta has failed to beat during his managerial career in the Premier League - he has lost all seven meetings against his former club.

Arsenal

Arsenal are unbeaten in the Premier League, winning five and drawing two of their seven matchesHowever, the Gunners suffered their first loss of the season in midweek, going down 2-1 to Lens in the Champions LeagueThe north Londoners have won 19 of their past 26 Premier League home games, drawing five and losing to Manchester City and BrightonMikel Arteta's side have kept just four clean sheets in their past 28 home league fixtures, with 63% of the goals they have conceded since the start of last season coming at Emirates StadiumThe Gunners have dropped points in five of their eight Premier League home games without Bukayo Saka, winning three, drawing three and losing twoSaka has contributed five goals and two assists in his past eight Premier League appearances.

Manchester City

Manchester City could lose back-to-back Premier League fixtures for the first time since December 2018, when they were beaten by Crystal Palace and LeicesterCity have lost one third of their 15 league matches without Rodri since his debut in August 2019, compared to just 13% of the 144 games he has featured inErling Haaland scored in both of the top-flight clashes with Arsenal last season, with each goal coming after the 80th minuteHaaland has scored in his previous four Premier League outings in London, a run which started with a goal in City's 3-1 win at Arsenal in FebruaryGoalkeeper Ederson is set to make his 300th City appearance on Sunday.

Line-ups

Arsenal

Formation 4-3-3

22Raya4White2Saliba6Gabriel35Zinchenko8Ødegaard20Jorginho41Rice9Gabriel Jesus14Nketiah19Trossard

Substitutes

1Ramsdale5Partey10Smith Rowe11Martinelli15Kiwior18Tomiyasu21Fábio Vieira24Nelson29Havertz

Man City

Formation 4-2-3-1

31Ederson2Walker3Rúben Dias6Aké24Gvardiol82Lewis8Kovacic20Bernardo Silva19Álvarez47Foden9Haaland

Substitutes

4Phillips5Stones10Grealish11Doku18Ortega21Gómez25Akanji27Nunes52Bobb
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