Pep Guardiola knows Man City have a title race advantage Arsenal and Manchester United don’t have – Joe Bray

After all, as he keeps reminding reporters, there are still 60 points to play for. And before the Manchester United defeat, there were 63. He keeps regular tabs on the wider picture and knows that the Premier League title is never decided in January. City aren&apost even at the halfway stage of their season yet.

Guardiola said last week that City &aposcannot win&apos the Premier League, and that he &aposdoesn&apost care&apos about the title – offering another team the chance to win it. At the moment, Arsenal are in pole position, and United made a statement by beating City to tell the rest of the league that they should be considered, too.

On form, City are behind both Arsenal and United, and they will watch on with interest next week when those sides meet at the Emirates. With Arsenal possessing a healthy lead over City and United the form side of the top three, Guardiola knows that his stuttering City side must improve to keep in touch with their rivals.

There is no use bemoaning the dropped points of late, or the fact that United&aposs game-changing equaliser on Sunday was clearly offside. City are firmly in a title race and are at risk of slipping even further behind.

This, however, is a position City have been in before, as both chasers and leaders. Last season, they were 14 points ahead of Liverpool in January, albeit having played two games more, and only won the title on the final day. In 2018/19, Liverpool were seven points clear at the turn of the year before City roared back to win the title, and in 2020/21, City were in eighth at one point as Liverpool led the way and they produced a long winning run to secure another Premier League crown. They will never forget their incredible run-ins of 2012 and 2014 either to deny United and Liverpool top spot on two more dramatic final days.

In the 2019/20 season, after an injury-interrupted start saw City stumble out of the blocks while Liverpool looked unstoppable, the Blues could never recover and Liverpool won their first and only Premier League title. If any team knows what it takes to mount a comeback in the second half of the season, it&aposs City.

So that could be why Guardiola has been so insistent that he is more concerned with City&aposs character and attitude – admitting last week that he feared a slump may be inevitable when City chase a third title in a row. He said he is the only person who can tell his players the truth, adding that he has had to give some a dose of honesty in recent weeks.

While a number of players have stressed the importance of going on a run of wins to put pressure back on Arsenal, Guardiola has often stressed more patience, and dropped plenty of hints over the need to have a full squad of players pushing in the right direction, calling some out for their condition or attitude.

It&aposs clear he knows why City have started to slump a little, and he also knows exactly what a title-ready squad looks like. Given City&aposs dominance of the Premier League in recent years, it shouldn&apost take much to rediscover that motivation that is needed to fight for every point in a title race.

And history suggests that if City do get on a run, they will be hard to stop. After all, it&aposs long been the case that the only team who can stop City from reaching their full potential is themselves.

As soon as Guardiola gets his squad back on track, they can begin to put the pressure back on Arsenal, and maybe Manchester United if they are still racking up the wins. Then, the title credentials of both teams would be truly tested, with Mikel Arteta and Erik Ten Hag assembling talented squads but with no experience of challenging for titles as City have hoarded those mostly for themselves of late.

If City get the chance to haul themselves back in the title race, they must use that experience to their advantage, knowing it&aposs one quality that Arsenal or United simply don&apost have.


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