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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola “gives verdict” on Arsenal title race

Manchester City are five points behind Arsenal in the Premier League and it’s the Gunners who will be top at Christmas.

City suffered a shock defeat to Brentford in their final game before the World Cup

There will be more important games to come for Manchester City this season, but the 2-1 defeat to Brentford certainly came at one of the worst possible times.

City have an excellent record at rebounding from setbacks this season, but this time they will have to wait 47 days for the chance to get this defeat out of the system.

Almost all of Pep Guardiola’s squad will head to the World Cup this week, with Erling Haaland the only player involved on Saturday not going to the tournament, but for the Catalan and his staff this defeat could well linger as they begin their mid-season break.


Guardiola is heading to Barcelona this week to spend time with his family, with training not resuming until early December now. City are back in action against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup fourth round just before Christmas and then face Leeds United at Elland Road on December 28.

The City boss admitted they had failed to get to grips with Brentford tactically on Saturday, especially forward Ivan Toney, and there will be plenty of analysis to look at what went wrong during the break, but he will also take the time to analyse the first 22 games as a whole ahead of the resumption.

“People go to their national team, they will be focused, it is a dream for them, it’s a World Cup,” said Guardiola.

“We have time to reflect, the staff, what we are doing good, what we could do better and, after, the Carabao Cup and Leeds, the first (league) game. And we will see how people come back.

“People say many things, the Premier League is difficult, we are going to try to come back good and fight for that.”


City are expected to head Abu Dhabi on December 5 for a six-day training camp, which could involve a friendly while they are over there.

The only senior members of the squad now heading to the tournament are Stefan Ortega, Scott Carson, Sergio Gomez, Riyad Mahrez and Haaland and they will be involved in that camp, but Guardiola will assess when his internationals return after they have been knocked out of the World Cup and their physical condition is assessed.

With Arsenal winning on Saturday night, City are now five points behind Mikel Arteta’s side in the title race, but Guardiola is happy with how the first stage of the campaign has gone.

“It’s been good. Before today. We go with that feeling that we lost, it’s always more difficult, but that’s the reality of this competition,” he said.

“We finish [qualify] in the Champions League and the Carabao Cup we’re through and the Premier League we’re close to Arsenal who have been really, really good. And now we will be a little bit behind but it is what it is. So the second part of the season will dictate how we are, how we are playing to do it.”

Arsenal are looking increasingly likely to be involved in the title race, having won 12 of their first 14 Premier League games. Guardiola admits they have been the best team in the league so far this season but is hopeful his side will be involved in the race in the New Year.

“I don’t know, hopefully we can be there. We will try. Now we come back, all the people come back, and after we try to see,” said Guardiola.

Erling Haaland ruled out of Ireland friendly in Dublin

The Manchester City striker will not travel with Ståle Solbakken’s squad.


NORWAY HAVE CONFIRMED that star striker Erling Haaland will miss Thursday’s friendly with the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

Neither Haaland nor Molde goalkeeper Jacob Karlstrøm will join the Norwegian travelling party in Dublin, according to the Norwegian FA’s latest squad update, while Sassuolo midfielder Kristian Thorstvedt is also unavailable with a broken toe.


Haaland has recently missed action for Manchester City with a foot injury, albeit he started their most recent Premier League fixture, a shock 2-1 home defeat to Brentford on Saturday.

The lethal striker was included in Norway’s original squad for this Thursday’s friendly but has now been ruled out for undetermined reasons.

Lillestrøm ‘keeper Mads Christiansen and Molde midfielder Sivert Mannsverk have now been added to Ståle Solbakken’s travelling party.


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