Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
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Guardiola hails ‘incredible work’ of treble-chasing Man City

Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City’s crunch clash with Arsenal is the start of an ‘important time’ as his team reach the Premier League run-in.

The defending champions host the league leaders at the Etihad on Sunday with just one point between the teams in the table.

Guardiola’s side are aiming to defend their treble success of last season and victory at the weekend would be a major step towards a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League crown.

 

“It’s good to be here (in this position),” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference.

“This season has been really good, winning two titles after what happened last season. To be in contention for the three important titles now, we’ve done incredible work.

“Now it’s the last 10 games of Premier League, we start an important time. We play the leaders of the Premier League and I’m sure the people (City’s fans) will give us what we need to perform at our best.

“Right now, every game is so important. If we are able to do it (beat Arsenal), the next game will be important as well.”

Kevin De Bruyne was the star of the show as Manchester City thrashed Arsenal 4-1 in last season’s fixture at the Etihad and Guardiola said the midfielder’s return to training is a huge boost.

“He is such an important player. It has been a tough season for him with injuries, he has been out for a long time. But he trained really well yesterday so we will see what we’re going to do in the next few days.

“He’s played so consistently for many years, that’s the most important thing. In important games we need important players, of course, but for the balance of the team we expect everybody to make a contribution.

“We won’t put all the responsibility on Kevin, we have to do it all together, with our people as well.”

Arsenal pushed City close in the title race last season and have emerged as leading contenders once again. Guardiola believes the north Londoners are benefitting from their patience with Mikel Arteta, who left Guardiola’s coaching staff at Manchester City to take charge of the Gunners in 2019.

 

“They have the same manager and new players, controlling many aspects of the game. Every time they get better and better. When you are consistent in terms of ideas and your manager, you always improve. When you change, it’s always more difficult.

“We’ve played really well for the last month but always in the first game after the international break, we don’t know (what will happen). But we’ve trained well and we’re prepared. We’re ready for it again.”

Read – Eight talking points ahead of the Premier League weekend

See more – Ranking the five best defensive midfielders in the world right now

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