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Pep’s warning to City players: You want title? Fight for it – it’s in our hands

Pep Guardiola has told his Man City players not to let the title slip away by underperforming and urged them to “fight for it” ahead of a trip to league leaders Arsenal.

Barely midway through the season, City have already lost more games than in the entire 2021/22 campaign, and they go into Wednesday’s game at Arsenal three points off the top of the table, having played a game more.

Guardiola’s side have only been pipped to the title once in the last five years, by Liverpool’s 99-point season in 2019/20, when City finished 17 points off the pace.

The former Barcelona boss told his players not to allow a repeat performance by dropping their own standards, having questioned their motivation levels repeatedly already this season.

The City manager said: “The biggest motivation is that I don’t want to drop the Premier League just because we are not who we are.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa

“If they beat us because they are better then this is sport, I’ll be the first to congratulate them, as I’ve always done. But not because we are not there. You want it? OK, fight. Take it. It’s in our hands.

“We’ll defend this title until the last day. This is what I’d like. To fight to the maximum to try to retain the title. If we don’t, accept it, but we need to give our best. My players have to feel that every day.”

Guardiola expects Arsenal to come roaring back after feeling aggrieved over the manner of their 1-1 draw against Brentford.

Ivan Toney’s equaliser should have been disallowed for offside, but a mistake was made in the VAR review.

Guardiola said: “They will be dangerous. When you drop points and you’re not used to dropping points, the next game you have something special.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s draw against Brentford in the Premier League

“Watching the two games, I don’t have the feeling that they dropped the way they’re playing.

“I think Arsenal have reached a level that means that the opponent always adapts to who they are. When you arrive at that level it is because you are a good team and you have reached the level that you need to be champions. I have the feeling that Arsenal have got it this season.”

Erling Haaland was substituted at half-time of City’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday after sustaining an apparent thigh injury following a collision with goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez midway through the first half – and Guardiola does not yet know if the striker will be fit to face Arsenal.

Erling Haaland was substituted at half-time of Manchester City's game with Aston Villa
Image: Erling Haaland was substituted at half-time of Manchester City’s game with Aston Villa

“We train this afternoon so right now I don’t know,” he said on Tuesday. “Yesterday was a recovery for the Aston Villa game, that’s all.”

Guardiola apologises for Gerrard comments

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Man City manager Pep Guardiola has apologised to Steven Gerrard over comments he made about the former Liverpool captain, bringing up Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea in the title run-in of 2014 as he defended City over financial allegations

Guardiola has revealed he apologised to Steven Gerrard for his comments over the Liverpool legend’s slip in 2014 which helped Manchester City win the Premier League title.

Guardiola took a shot at Gerrard’s mistake last week asking “was that our fault?” while responding to the club’s alleged breaches of financial regulations charges.

However, the Man City boss has now publicly apologised to Gerrard having also done so in private.

“I apologise to Steven Gerrard for my unnecessary and stupid comments I said last time about him,” he said.

“He knows how I admire him and his career, what he has done for this country where I’m living and training. I am ashamed of myself for what I said because he doesn’t deserve it. I truly believe in my comments in my previous press conference to defend my club, but I didn’t represent my club well putting his name in these stupid comments.

“I apologised to him personally but I have to do it here as well. I’m so sorry for him, for Alex his wife, kids, family because it was stupid.”

Once the full-time whistle has gone at the Emirates on Wednesday, watch free highlights minutes after the game right here on Sky Sports digital platforms.

You can follow the game with our live blog on the Sky Sports website and app, as Premier League leaders Arsenal host second-placed Manchester City – who have the chance to leapfrog them at the top of the table.

We’ll bring them to you for free on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as on our Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the full-time whistle sounds.


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