Man City’s Pep Guardiola compliments Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Arsenal after Manchester City beat Brentford

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Arsenal after Manchester City beat Brentford (Photo: Amazon Prime)

Pep Guardiola tried to downplay Manchester City’s dominance in the Premier League after his team beat Brentford to withdraw further and described their next opponent Arsenal as ‘one of the top teams right now’.

The defending champions rounded off a brilliant 2021 with a 1-0 win in west London on Wednesday night to move eight points ahead at the top of the table.

European champions Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton earlier in the evening and as Liverpool lost 1-0 to Leicester the day before, City are now in a dominant position in the title race.

Phil Foden’s goal in the first half decided the meeting with his fifth league goal of the season, but Guardiola insisted that Liverpool and Chelsea could still catch Manchester City after the hard-fought victory.

Guardiola in particular were on guard against being torn apart ahead of Saturday’s trip to north London to face ‘the best Arsenal team in the last four or five years’.

Asked if Manchester City had control of the title race, Guardiola told Amazon Prime: ‘There are 54 points to play for. It is not expected to have this distance to eight and nine, but Liverpool play one game less.

‘But that’s 54 points. In December, there are no champions. We’re going to lose matches. I envision Arsenal, Chelsea, Southampton coming.

‘We have a match in London against Arsenal, maybe one of the top teams right now. The best Arsenal in the last four or five years

“I can not say more than congratulations to the team, but we need to focus.”

Manchester City are at the top of the Premier League table at the turn of the year for the third time, after 2011-12 and 2017-18. They went on to win the title in both of those seasons.

Premier League leaders on New Year’s Day have won the title in eight of the past 12 seasons.

The 1-0 win over Brentford was Man City’s 16th win of the campaign, but Thomas Frank’s side made them work for the three points.

Phil Foden scored the winner for City at Brentford

Phil Foden scores the winner for City at Brentford (Photo: Getty)

Guardiola added: ‘For the way they [Brentford] played it was the best performance. We can not play better when they play this way.

‘They pressed on and that made it hard for us to build up. When they defend themselves deeply, it is incredibly difficult as they are so organized.

‘You can not go inside as there is no space. When a team defends this way, it’s so hard. You see how the other teams get here and they suffer. I know.

‘How many chances they create from corner kicks, from throw-ins. We did not concede a single time or a shot on goal in the second half.

Premier League leaders meet Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal this weekend (Photo: Getty)

‘People expect us to score four goals after 23 minutes. It is not reality, it is the exception. The reality is this type of game.

‘In some games you have to play one way, in others you play another way. If you play faster than usual, they can handle the transition with Ivan Toney and the other guys, and you’ll suffer.

‘They create counter-attacks and fee-kicks and throw-ins, and by this they are the best team in the Premier League. Statistically, this is the best team. We compete and we adjust something during the break. ‘

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