Pep admits title no longer ‘in Man City’s hands’

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City are now “third” favourites to win the Premier League title after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday.

The result leaves City third in the table, a point behind Arsenal in second and three points adrift of leaders Liverpool. With nine games remaining, the title is out of their hands and Guardiola said his team are now underdogs to claim the trophy for the fourth season in a row.

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Asked whether Liverpool were now “clear favourites” to win the Premier League, Guardiola said: “Yes. Whoever is first is favourites, second is Arsenal and we are third.

“It’s not in our hands — all we can do is think of [the next game against] Aston Villa. If you are top of the league, like we’ve been before, you are favourites.”

City dominated most of the game against Arsenal, but could manage only one shot on target. It was the first time they had failed to score in a league game at the Etihad Stadium since October 2021, and afterwards Guardiola joked that there was only one way to get through Arsenal’s low defensive block.

“Kill someone,” he said. “Play with nine. They defend well and a lot, surrounding Erling [Haaland]. They defended well with a lot of people. There are different ways. They did well with the press and then after the block. The main target is not to concede and they did it. We didn’t create much but our intention was there.”

For Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, there was pride in keeping two clean sheets against City this season — particularly after losing 4-1 at the Etihad 11 months ago. That result last season ended Arsenal’s title hopes, but this one ensured they are still in the race ahead of the run-in.

“You want to win the game, you prepare to win it but if you cannot win it, make sure you draw it,” Arteta said. “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 shows you the commitment of every player, the discipline they showed and how they compete. One thing is to play a football match and another one is to compete in it. Today we did that really well.”

Both teams are still alive in the Champions League, with Arsenal facing Bayern Munich and City taking on Real Madrid in the quarterfinals next week. Before that, Man City host Aston Villa and Arsenal play Luton Town at the Emirates this Wednesday in midweek Premier League action.

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