Guardiola vows to defend title ahead of Arsenal clash

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Pep Guardiola vows to defend the Premier League title to the last day as they prepare to clash with League leaders Arsenal for the first time this season.

Arsenal are seeking to extend their lead when they play against Premier League defending Champions Manchester after the dropped 4 points in the last two matches in the Premier League.

But City would climb above current league leaders Arsenal with a win.

When asked whether this was the best Gunners side he had faced, Guardiola said at his news conference on Tuesday: “Since I’m here, yeah, definitely.”

Guardiola is unbeaten against Arsenal in the Premier League, winning 11 of 12 fixtures – including the five most recent trips to Emirates Stadium.

Wednesday’s game is the first league meeting between the two sides this season, although they did face each other in the FA Cup last month, with City winning 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Nathan Ake.

However, in the league Arsenal have lost just two of their first 21 fixtures so far this campaign, accruing 51 points.

It has left City with a major challenge to retain their crown, but Guardiola promised they would not be giving it up without a fight.

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

“If they (Arsenal) 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.”

City won two Premier League titles in three seasons when Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant at the Etihad, and the former master was full of praise for the work his old apprentice has done since being appointed by Arsenal in 2019.

Guardiola said: “So far, they are the best team in the Premier League. They played an incredible first round of fixtures.

“We felt it, when we played them a few weeks ago, how committed and how sharp they are.

“We have to try to read the game and it will be a big, big battle. In every department you have to be ready.”

Guardiola has beaten Arteta in six of their seven meetings as managers, with Arsenal’s sole win over City coming in the 2019-20 FA Cup semi-final, but the Gunners boss insists it is about the players rather than any personal pride being at stake.

“For me it’s the team,” he said. “The team, the club and where we are. For me beating one manager or another, it’s not about that. It’s about beating the next opponent and in this case it’s Manchester City.”

Arsenal have a game in hand on their title rivals as they continue to seek a first league title in 19 years.

“What they have done in the last six years, they absolutely merit it,” added Arteta of City.

“The way they play, the way they have competed, the way they have gone through difficulties. For us the challenge is to get to that level.”

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