The final phase of the 2022-23 Premier League season is here, and it appears the Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has already started ‘mind wars’ with his disciple and fellow title-contenders Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, as the Premier League title race heats up.
Pep Guardiola’s side closed the gap on Arsenal to only two points last Saturday evening with a narrow 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, as top-scorer Erling Haaland converted from the spot in the latter stages of the game to prevent City from losing ground in title defence.
This season, Arsenal have demonstrated the mental toughness to win games in the dying embers of the game, with Mikel Arteta’s team scoring late match-winners against Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Manchester United to earn three points.
In Guardiola’s post-match interview after Palace victory, he noted that as key edge Arsenal have over his Manchester City side despite their vast experience of title races, hinting that his players have grown stale after winning so much in recent season while Arsenal are afresh and are more likely to win the title race.
The Spaniard said: “They (Arsenal) have many years without winning the Premier League and that gives you a little bit extra to win games in 93, 96, 98.
“That is something they have that we don’t have because we have won back-to-back, two times. That’s why when people say about your opinion on the team and the season it’s after two times back-to-back and 50 points for our opponents in the first half still we are there.”
Arsenal responded admirably to open the gap to five points on Sunday, claiming a comfortable three points at Craven Cottage.
Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard were all on the scoresheet as the Gunners brushed aside Fulham.
Following the Gunners win over Fulham on Sunday, Arteta was questioned about on Guardiola’s claims, and the Arsenal boss responded by stating his focus remains solely on Arsenal and his side’s title ambitions, not what rivals Manchester City are doing or saying, for that matter.
When quizzed if whether it’s favourable or not that City are hunting them in the title race, and not the other way round, the Arsenal head replied: “I don’t know.
“We discuss what we discuss internally to be really humble, to work on the next training session and try to be better every day. That’s our focus, there’s still a huge part of the season to be played.”
Manchester will next face against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, whilst Arsenal will face Sporting in the return leg of the Europa League tie on Thursday, with both games finely balanced on the knife-edge.