Pep Guardiola wants his side to fight for the title ahead of Manchester City’s crunch clash with Arsenal.
City travel to face Arsenal on Wednesday evening in a clash between the Premier League’s top two. A win for Guardiola’s side will take them above the Gunners and top of the table on goal difference, although having played a game more.
Speaking ahead of a huge showdown at the Emirates, Guardiola called on the champions to fight for the Premier League title.
“You want it? OK, fight, take it. It’s in our hands,” Guardiola at his pre-match press conference.
“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. But we need to give our best. My players have to feel that every day.
“The biggest motivation is that I don’t want to drop the Premier League just because we are not who we are. If they beat us because they are better, then this is sport, I’ll be the first to congratulate them. But not because we are not there.”
Guardiola discussed the difference between the two title rivals, with Arsenal having exceeded all expectations to lead the table at this stage. The Gunners have impressed under Mikel Arteta and are chasing a first Premier League title since 2003/04.
“It’s happened quite similar to previous seasons when we’ve won,” he said. “Arsenal has an incredible history, bigger than us in terms of titles. But not recently. They have something special that we don’t have because we won it recently.
“We have to find another trick, other ways, to find the fire as a team and individually to say that we can still do it. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be second. We’d be far, far away. We are still there.”
The Spaniard outlined his demands for City in what will be an atmospheric Emirates this evening, insisting the champions must play with aggression and handle the pressure of the occasion.
“We have to be so aggressive, handle the rhythm and pressure. They are going to create pressure on us through the fans, the referee, the players. We have to be so active in many things.”
City moved within three points of Arsenal after the latter dropped points to Brentford last weekend and Guardiola believes his squad have shown a greater focus in recent days.
“They are more focused, all of them. When we talk, sometimes you’d see distracted faces, but my feeling is that everyone is more focused,” he said.
“Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I should be more active and present, but this is my feeling. I would say the mentality is there. We are second in the table, in the FA Cup, in the Champions League again. We are just in February, there are a lot of games to play.”
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