How Man City’s victory over Tottenham boosted Arsenal’s title aspirations for four reasons.
Despite beating Tottenham, Pep Guardiola’s programme notes and four post-match comments are concerning for Manchester City in their Premier League title duel with Arsenal.
Manchester City came from behind to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. However, Pep Guardiola’s furious post-match press conference exposed several flaws that will only inspire Arsenal further in the Premier League title fight.
The manager’s statement in the matchday programme is a tradition in English football and an opportunity to reflect on the previous game and preview the upcoming test.
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Guardiola’s Tottenham notes, though, read very differently when he addressed the media, angry with what he considered poor performance another below-par performance, as they did before kick-off.
It serves as a harsh reminder that Manchester City is there to be had, and this is Arsenal’s title to lose.
Express Sport draws a stunning comparison between four chunks of his programme notes and opposing comments after full-time.
a lack of tenacity
In his pre-match remarks, Guardiola stressed that to beat an Antonio Conte squad, you have to ‘battle for virtually everything’.
And the Catalan coach went on to say that his players ‘would have done that [last night]’. He had a different attitude after the game, angry with his team’s lack of fight.
Guardiola claimed that because City has won so consistently in recent years, while Arsenal hasn’t won the Premier League crown since 2004, the Gunners have more fight and drive.
He said: “We have the problem that we have four Premier Leagues in five years, and Arsenal have two decades without the Premier League, except Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
“Every ball and every action and every corner and every duel, it [the fight] is there. We miss it. We don’t have it.
‘Arsenal will beat us’
In the programme, he also acknowledged City’s improvement in the second half of Saturday’s Manchester derby, despite a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
As he witnessed against Manchester United, he demanded “excellent performances and loads of personality” from his players.
However, following Tottenham’s victory, he expressed concern that Arsenal would ‘kill’ the Citizens in the championship chase if they continued to play like ‘happy flowers’. Without a doubt, a quote for the ages.
We’re a happy flowers team. Happy flowers… ah, it’s good. No, I don’t want to be a happy flower. I want to beat Arsenal. But if we play in that way, Arsenal will destroy us,” Guardiola warned.
“Arsenal will beat us. I want to see my team. We are far away from the team we had in previous seasons. I’m incredibly happy [to beat Spurs], but if we don’t change, we are not going to win anything.”
Lucky to avoid a loss
“I recognise the team from what we have done for many, many years and to the last day I am here, it will be like this.”
That’s what Guardiola wrote in the matchday programme. But witnessing more slack errors and another slow start against Spurs prompted the frighteningly contrasting words in his press conference.
“We are far away from the team we had in previous seasons. Do you think this comeback will happen every time? It won’t.
“Today, we were lucky. If we want to win something or compete – but complaining, complaining, complaining – no chance we will win anything.”
“Do you think we are going to chase the gap to Arsenal the way we are playing? No way.”
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Guardiola didn’t just save his criticism for the players. The City boss also ripped into the Etihad Stadium crowd, who booed the hosts off at half-time after falling 2-0 behind.
In his programme message, directed at the fans, he noted: “One thing I know for sure is we need you guys behind us.”
But Guardiola didn’t forget or hold back, despite a joyous end to the evening, blasting the home supporters for their ‘silence’ in the first half.
“[We were lacking in] guts, passion, fire, desire to win from minute one. The same with the fans. They were silent for 45 minutes. I want my fans back,” he moaned.
“The fans – they come here, and we have to give them. They expect, ‘Oh, we’re Manchester City. We have to do it.’ No, we don’t have it right now.
“Our fans have to push us, demand more, have to shout, ‘Come on guys, I know how good you are. You have to show us!’