Pep Guardiola names Premier League title favourites after Man City-Arsenal stalemate

Pep Guardiola names Premier League title favourites after Man City-Arsenal stalemate

Pep Guardiola anointed Liverpool as clear title favourites and declared that Manchester City are only the third most likely champions after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Arsenal.

The City manager accepted that it is out of their hands if they win a record fourth consecutive English league title and, on a day when Jurgen Klopp’s team went top ahead of Arsenal, Guardiola said Liverpool now have the best chance of winning the title

“Always who is first is favourites, second is Arsenal and we are third,” he explained. “It’s not in our hands. If you are top of the league – like we’ve been before – you are favourites.”

Guardiola said he thought his team are still playing the best of the three title contenders. When asked, he replied: “Man City. Your reaction, you don’t agree? You pretend it’s 7-0 every week for six years.”

City only had one shot on target against the Gunners and Guardiola, who joked the only way to counter a deep defensive line was to “kill someone”, added: “When teams defend like this it’s difficult. They defended so well in the low block. I recognised my team, I’m so proud.”

City have now only taken four points from six games against the rest of the top five, compared to 16 from a possible 24 last season.

“The numbers are there,” Guardiola said. “But except Arsenal away, [in] the others we were really good. Even then we had our chances. The top six [games], [Aston] Villa away was the worst. The rest we’ve played really well. I have to analyse the performance. If you say four points compared to 16 then it’s a big difference.”

Erling Haaland was stymied by the presence of William Saliba

Arteta savoured the difference from Arsenal’s previous visit to the Etihad Stadium, when they lost 4-1 last April to put a major dent in their title challenge.

His side became the first visiting team to keep a clean sheet away at City in the Premier League since Crystal Palace in 2021, 47 matches ago, and Arteta hailed his side for their outstanding defending while believing they needed to do more in attack to win the matches.

He said: “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. It was a really thrilling game. A really tough match, a very demanding opponent. I think we competed really well. Defensively we were outstanding.

“It’s three years since they haven’t scored at home so that tells you the outstanding team that they are. The downside is that we had some situations to score. We didn’t make the most out of it. I think the next step is to have the composure with the ball in the first phase to attack better.

“We are improving, we are competing better and we are understanding how to compete in these games. There’s another step to make to win championships and that’s that you have to win. Today we were able to draw and we have to improve a lot still to win.”