Liverpool are Premier League title favourites, says Pep Guardiola | Premier League

Pep Guardiola said that Liverpool are now favourites for the Premier League title with nine matches left after Manchester City’s goalless draw with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 at Anfield earlier in the day to leave Jürgen Klopp’s side two points ahead of Arsenal and three of the champions. Each have only 27 points left to play for and Guardiola was asked if Liverpool are now in prime position.

“Yes. Always who is first is favourites, second is Arsenal and we are third,” the manager said.

He was asked if there is any concern that City may run out of matches to catch Liverpool. “It’s not in our hands,” said Guardiola. “All we can do is think of Aston Villa [on Wednesday]. If you are top of the league – like we’ve been before – you are favourites.

“We prefer to win obviously. We take the point. A tight game. I recognised my team, I’m so proud. They tried. Our intention was there. We’ll see what happens. We need to refresh our minds and legs before Aston Villa [on Wednesday].”

The result was the first time City have failed to score at home in 57 matches. After Arsenal suffered a 4-1 loss to City in last season’s corresponding fixture, Mikel Arteta praised his side’s development but admitted that to be champions they may have needed to win.

“We are improving, we are competing better and we are understanding how to compete in these games,” said the manager. “There’s another step to make to win championships and that’s that you have to win. Today we were able to draw and we have to improve a lot to win.”

Arteta was asked if a point was a good result for Arsenal’s title hopes. “I don’t know,” he said. “You want to win the game. You prepare to win it. If you cannot win it, make sure you draw it. We did that. Eleven months ago we were here and the story was very different. You have to make steps as a team and today we’ve done that. We still have many more to come. No way can you be fully happy [with a point].

“It generates belief [today’s result]. It continues momentum and the good position that we’re in. The fact that the boys are there and they want more and they’re demanding individually from themselves saying: ‘I could have done better, I haven’t done this as well as when we trained’ – that tells you just how much the boys want it. We’ll try our best to continue what we’re doing.”

After Arsenal won October’s reverse game 1-0, they have now prevented City from scoring this season. “Yeah huge. It’s extremely difficult to do that,” Arteta said. “It shows you the commitment of every player, the discipline they showed and how they compete. One thing is to play a football match and another one is to compete in it. Today we did that really well.”

Arsenal employed a low block to stymie City. Guardiola joked when asked what the solution was. “Kill someone. Play with nine,” he said. “They defend well and a lot – surrounding Erling [Haaland]. So be patient and find the pass. They defended well with a lot of people. There are different ways. They did well with the press and then after the block. It doesn’t matter how many players you defend with, the main target is not to concede.”

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Arsenal also slowed the game down though Guardiola refused to criticise the visitors. “It’s not my job. I control my team and the rest I don’t know. Nothing to say about the referee – Anthony Taylor must be happy because nothing wrong happened. Normally it happens when the referee becomes more important to the players. The ref was really good. It was OK,” he said.

Bernardo Silva struck an optimistic note regarding City’s prospects of retaining the title again. “A lot can happen,” the midfielder said. “Now we don’t depend on ourselves, we depend on Liverpool and Arsenal now because we don’t play against them again, so we need them to drop points as well as do our job and win our own games.

“Today it was a different [Arsenal] team, more experienced.”

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