Guardiola: Arsenal still in the title race

By: Dean Carr

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists Arsenal are still title contenders this season, describing the nine-point gap between the two sides as "nothing".

City and Arsenal come into this game sat 1st and 5th respectively in the Premier League table, with Guardiola’s men unbeaten with nine wins and a draw from their first 10 matches. 

The Gunners meanwhile have somewhat recovered from a slow start to win four of their last five league outings, losing just once since August and it seems that form has not evaded the attention of the City manager.

"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.

"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."

Arsenal boast an impressive record against Manchester City in recent seasons, losing just one of their last nine meetings in all competitions, though they did fall to a 2-1 defeat at the Etihad last term.

Guardiola stressed the importance of getting a victory this weekend, with either Chelsea, Manchester United or both set to drop points when they face each other at Stamford Bridge shortly after they play on Sunday.

"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."

The 46-year-old was also keen to single out praise for some of his defensive unit, whose contribution to City’s success has gone somewhat under the radar this term.

"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."

About Dean Carr

Dean Carr of SBAT