Erling Haaland doubts Manchester City’s trip to Arsenal on Wednesday would see the champions go top if they beat the top flight, but Pep Guardiola is happier with his players ahead of the crucial meeting due to a renewed focus on training.
Haaland was taken off at half-time in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa after suffering a kick to the thigh. Guardiola said: “We’ll see in the next few days how he does. At half-time I spoke to the doctors and they say: “Maybe don’t risk it”. Agree. I think he is not injured but we will see tomorrow. If there’s any danger, he’s not going to play.”
Goals from Rodri, Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez were only answered by Ollie Watkins as City moved within three points of Mikel Arteta’s side, meaning victory at the Emirates would pull them ahead on goal difference, although has played one match more. Guardiola has recently been unhappy with his team but has stated that they are improving.
“Yes, especially the way we behave in training in the last week or 10 days, we are improving a lot,” he said. “Everyone is so focused, Kyle [Walker] he’s back, the way he behaves, a lot of players are the same and this is the only chance he has to be competitive. That doesn’t make it easy to win, but without it it’s impossible.”
Guardiola was asked if he was confident of beating Arsenal with or without Haaland. “They have one game left [more to play],” he said. “Last season we were 12-13 points ahead of Liverpool and people are saying it’s over [and they went close to closing the gap].
“We know the distance we have. Today I have a feeling that in this league every game will be so difficult. Every game is getting tougher, but we travel to London to try and play our game.”
Guardiola was delighted with the support from City fans in the first game since news broke of the 101 Premier League charges against the club.
“Today is a good example and it’s nice to see people there,” he said. “But it happens this week and next week it will be forgotten and everyone will get on with the job at the club.”
Unai Emery apologized to Villa fans for the display. “I can only apologize to our supporters and we didn’t play the way we did,” the manager said.