Wednesday 18 July 2018

Manchester City won't go unbeaten like Arsenal did says Pep Guardiola

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola speaks during a press conference at Manchester City Football Academy on November 3, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Manchester City's Pep Guardiola speaks during a press conference at Manchester City Football Academy on November 3, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola is certain that his Manchester City side have no chance of matching Arsenal’s record as the ultimate Invincibles.

Only two sides in the entire history of the professional game have gone through an entire English top-division season without defeat – Preston in 1888-89, over 22 games, and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 2003-04, over 38 matches.

Guardiola’s Premier League leaders have not lost any of their 16 competitive games this season, winning 14 of them outright and also beating Wolves on penalties in the Carabao Cup.

Wenger has suggested that it would be difficult for City, who face Arsenal on Sunday in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium, to match what he did, and Guardiola agrees.

He said: “I would like to say to Arsene that this record belongs to him, we are not going to break it. He has to be calm. He is to be sure that is not going to happen. It was an exceptional team.

“To stay unbeaten in the Premier League is something fantastic. He has to know that we don’t want to break this record but we want to play well and beat them on Sunday.”

Guardiola has also brushed off Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s suggestion that City are the team to beat in the league this season.

“We are five points ahead of Manchester United,” he said. “How many games are left? Twenty-eight. How many points? Eighty-four. We are five in front. It is nothing. If you say that, until next May, we are going to play like we have in last two months, I’d say: ‘Wow, we have a good chance to win the Premier League.’ But who is going to assure me we will not get injuries?

“Even for the best teams in the world it’s hard to maintain what we have done over the last two months. We will have injuries, and the opponents will make it tricky, and we have to solve it. May is the best month to talk about it, but with 84 points to play for, it’s nothing.”

Sunday’s home game against Arsenal is set to be the first time Alexis Sanchez has  faced City since a £60m move to the Etihad Stadium fell through at the end of August.

Guardiola refused to be drawn on the prospect of resurrecting that deal – either in January or next summer, when the Chile international’s contract runs out.

“The transfer window is closed, so it's not time to talk about that,” Guardiola said. “I have respect for Arsenal and especially for my own players. In the period that the transfer window is open, I leave other people to talk about that.

“You know my opinion on the players I have. On Alexis, you know my opinion, but he's an Arsenal player - so it's not correct to talk about that – especially before we play them."

Guardiola, though, believes that City should be wary not just of Sanchez, but of Mesut Ozil, another point in the three-pronged attack that also features Alexandre Lacazette.

Ozil, like Sanchez, is out of contract next summer, but has faced criticismfor a lack of goals and assists this season.

Guardiola said: “I don’t have doubts about him first in terms of quality. I enjoy him and have suffered from him at Real Madrid and here.

“He gets criticised when the team loses. He is a big target when they lose. But I admire him. Maybe his body language doesn’t help him too much but sometimes that confuses opinion of the critics.

“I don’t have doubts about his quality. It’s good for the Premier League to have players of this talent but hopefully on Sunday he can play a bad, bad, bad game.”

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