Pep Guardiola believes Arsenal could challenge for the Premier League title this season and insists the nine-point gap between the Gunners and Manchester City is “nothing”.
City are yet to lose in the league at the start of the new campaign and are already five points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester United at the top of the table.
Arsenal travel to face the league leaders at the Eithad on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, and Guardiola is wary of the threat posed by Arsene Wenger’s side, who have lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions.
Man City vs Arsenal
November 5, 2017, 1:00pm
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“We are in November. They won the FA Cup last season. The prestige of the club, the Emirates Stadium – of course they are a contender,” said Guardiola.
“It is nine points. The difference (between us) is nothing, believe me.
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“People consider we are going to play like the last two months all season. When that has happens I can say, ‘OK we have a big chance to be champions’ but nobody can assure you that. We have to fight.”
Chelsea host Manchester United immediately after Arsenal’s visit to the Eithad and Guardiola believes this weekend’s round of fixtures could have a huge bearing on the title race.
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“We know United are playing against Chelsea, so it is another game to make more advances on one of them, or both of them,” he said. “That is why we have to be focused on an important game for us.
“At the least maybe (we could) leave Arsenal 12 points behind. It is a massive game for us for many circumstances, starting from the way we want to play, to try to win the game.”
City’s exciting group of forwards have caught the eye at the start of the campaign after scoring 49 goals in 16 matches across all competitions.
Guardiola, however, was keen to single out praise for several members of his defensive unit ahead of the visit of Arsenal.
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“I think Fernandinho right now is one of the best, best, best three holding midfielders in the world,” he said.
“The same as John (Stones) and Nico (Otamendi), Fernandinho has achieved another level. His positivity and his mentality – he helps us a lot, with the ball and without the ball, in terms of many things we need to compete.
“When you have a lot of players in one squad with that mentality you can dream of winning games.”