Guardiola aims to head into World Cup break on a high
LONDON – The challenge for Manchester City and Arsenal on Saturday is to be top of the standings as the Premier League takes a break for the Qatar World Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s City are second on 32 points, two behind Mikel Arteta’s Gunners. The English champions play host to Brentford, while Arsenal will travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the later kick-off.
“I don’t know how the minds of all the players will be. Early kick-off, always a little more complicated. Last game before the stop, we have to do our best,” said Guardiola, whose team beat Chelsea 2-0 in the League Cup third round on Wednesday.
“I don’t think about (the possibility of) a disappointing result, I’m always positive. I cannot answer exactly what will happen but always I’m positive. If it’s not positive, we’ll come back. Brentford also want to finish best as possible before the break.”
City have been ruthless playing at the Etihad of late – their 16-game winning run in all competitions dates back to April, and they have scored 61 goals in the process.
Guardiola’s men have also won seven of their last eight Premier League matches, and the City boss will be confident of another victory against Brentford after beating them both home and away last season without conceding a goal.
City, however, have never claimed three straight league wins against the Bees in 10 previous meetings.
“I remember how tough it was to beat them, (it) will be quite similar,” Guardiola added.
Kyle Walker remains City’s only major injury absentee, while Kalvin Phillips will be hoping to get more minutes after recovering from his shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, Arteta is hoping to bounce back from their 3-1 League Cup third-round loss to Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek.
Arsenal have won six and drawn one of their last seven Premier League games. They have dropped only five points this season and all have been on the road, so there is a chance they may not be as dominant on Saturday.
Arteta is already looking ahead to the January transfer window, and believes that new recruits may be required to ensure their impressive first half of the season does not fizzle out after the World Cup.
“We are out (of the League Cup), it is already done, and now we have to concentrate on the Premier League, which is the priority,” said the Spaniard, with Arsenal aiming to score against Wolves for the 30th match in a row.
“We’ll have to discuss the opportunities that we have, the capacity that we have for any changes and be on the market for opportunities. It’s a lot of options that are open.” - AFP, REUTERS