Guardiola: We had to win before 'final' against Arsenal

17 Apr 2023

Man City boss says beating Leicester was essential before top-two showdown on 26 April

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Pep Guardiola says his Manchester City side had to beat Leicester City ahead of next week's "final" against leaders Arsenal.

Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Foxes gave Man City a sixth straight win and closed the gap to Arsenal, who dropped points with a 2-2 draw at West Ham United on Sunday.

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The top two teams meet in a potential title decider next Wednesday, 26 April, and Guardiola told Man City’s official website: “We have to win, win and win.

“Arsenal have done incredibly well this season and I don’t think they are going to drop many points, and what we have to do is be there.

“It was important for us to win to arrive in the final we have against them in our next Premier League game. It is a final because if we lose this game, it will almost be over.” 

The title race

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
1 Manchester City MCI 38 +61 89
2 Arsenal ARS 38 +45 84
View More

While Arsenal have taken just two points from their last two matches, throwing away a 2-0 lead against both Liverpool and West Ham, the Gunners host bottom club Southampton on Friday and could be seven points ahead of Man City when they visit their title rivals next week.

Meanwhile, City are fighting on three fronts, facing Bayern Munich this Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final, before Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United.

Guardiola is famed for his rotation, but he got a scare after making a raft of substitutions against Leicester, with the Foxes pulling a goal back and then having other big chances to pull off a late shock.

“Often after a game like Bayern, there is rotation but in my experience in previous seasons, if you rotate a lot of the team, the levels drop a lot,” said Guardiola.

“We made two or three changes. After we conceded, we struggled a lot - always when there is a lot of substitutions at the same time we struggle.

“We have to do it better because if Leicester scored another goal, I don’t know what might have happened - football is unpredictable. But the way we played in general, I am really satisfied.”

Premier League pundit Karen Carney believes City’s experience of title chases and their successes under Guardiola make them favourites to lift the trophy for the third straight season.

“The way City are historically, the form they're in, I can’t see anything changing and City to win it,” she said.

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