Guardiola admits Arsenal have 'the advantage' in the tittle race
Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City’s experience of winning Premier League titles counts for nothing in their battle with Arsenal and that he would rather be in the leaders’ shoes.
City trail Arsenal by eight points with a game in hand going into Saturday’s game at home to Liverpool, who beat them 1-0 in October’s reverse fixture. Four of the past five titles have been won by Guardiola’s City, who have a habit of finishing seasons strongly, whereas Arsenal last secured the league in 2004 and have no recent history of fighting for top spot.
“I’d prefer to be in Arsenal’s position in the Premier League than the one we have,” Guardiola said. “The advantage is that they are eight points in front of us – this is the real advantage. The past is the past; experience doesn’t count.”
Liverpool, despite sitting sixth, have picked up more points against fellow members of the top six than any other side. They hope victory would put them in contention for a Champions League spot but are on course for their worst season since finishing eighth in 2015-16.
“This can happen,” Guardiola said. “I’ve said many times that the teams who win the Premier League, the year after [can] not even qualify for the Europa League … Every time can happen what happened to Liverpool this season or another case, Chelsea, or another team in the top six. It can happen to us, absolutely. When it happens, try to find a solution as soon as possible and try to avoid it. When it happens, accept the storm and always tomorrow the sun rises.”
Guardiola said he would check on the fitness of Erling Haaland after the final training session but confirmed Phil Foden would be out for two to three weeks after having his appendix removed. If Haaland is absent, it could lead to a start for Julián Álvarez.
“Look at the statistics, the goals, the goals-per-minute ratio, it’s great,” Guardiola said of Álvarez. “He is aggressive, particularly without the ball. Particularly for this early age, the personality, the courage to play, I have been really impressed.”