Soccer

It’s not in our hands – Pep Guardiola says Liverpool now favourites for title

Liverpool are two points clear of Arsenal and three above Man City following Sunday’s results.

Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola after Sunday’s draw with Arsenal
Manchester City v Arsenal – Premier League – Etihad Stadium Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola after Sunday’s draw with Arsenal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola called Liverpool the favourites to win the Premier League after his side were held to a goalless home draw by title rivals Arsenal.

After Liverpool came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 earlier in the day, Jurgen Klopp’s side top the table by two points from the Gunners with City in third, three points from the summit.

Guardiola’s three-time reigning champions have made a habit of putting together long winning runs late in the season to overhaul rivals in the race to finish top, but the Catalan conceded this year’s title race was not in their hands.

“Always who is first is favourite,” Guardiola said when asked if Liverpool were “clear favourites” to win the league.

“The second favourite is Arsenal and we are third…It’s not in our hands. All we can do is think of Aston Villa (at home on Wednesday). Always when we were top of the league, we were favourites. It was in our hands. Now it’s not. It’s simple.”

City and Arsenal both fought hard at the Etihad but produced a match of few chances that will not live long in the memory, with Guardiola’s men failing to score at home for the first time in 58 matches across all competitions.

Last April Arsenal lost 4-1 at the Etihad in the midst of a run which proved pivotal as City overhauled Mikel Arteta’s side on their way to the treble.

There was no repeat as Arsenal’s eight-game losing streak at the Etihad came to an end, and this felt like a more important result for the Gunners.

“I think the context and the way we arrived here 11 months ago was different, but the difficulty remains the same,” Arsenal boss Arteta said.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (left) saw his side hold Man City to a goalless draw
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (left) saw his side hold Man City to a goalless draw (Martin Rickett/PA)

“They are the best team in the world, in my opinion, by far. They have the best manager in the world by far. To catch up and try to better than them is the challenge ahead of us…

“I don’t know (if the draw is good for the title race). You want to win the game. You prepare to win it. If you cannot win it, make sure you draw it. We did that.

“Eleven months ago we were here and the story was very different. You have to make steps as a team and today we’ve done that. We still have many more to come…

“(It says) that we are improving and competing better and understand how you have to play these games but there is another step to make to win the championship. You have to come here and win.”

Arsenal kept their structure, defending deep and denying City players any space in and around the box.

Asked how to break down such a low block, Guardiola joked: “Kill someone”.

“I recognise my team, the proposals and how we pressed high,” he said. “We’ve played against a low block sometimes and Arsenal are exceptional. Well managed and the players are really good.

“You have to knock on the door of another manager and see if he can do it. As a team we’re still there. We could have more in some aspects but I’m satisfied. I told the team don’t be sad. You give credit to Arsenal for the things they do.”