Arsenal are ‘winners’ in the Premier League this season, despite falling short in their title challenge against Manchester City, Guardiola says.
City trailed Arsenal by eight points at various points of the season, but the Blues fought back and sealed the title this weekend thanks to Arsenal’s defeat at Nottingham Forest. City followed that with a 12th successive league win over Chelsea and celebrated their title in front of the Etihad fans with two games to spare.
Reflecting on City’s title win, Guardiola paid tribute to Arsenal’s season and insisted they did not ‘bottle’ their title chances.
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“I would like to, on behalf of all the organisation, send incredible big congratulations for all Arsenal have done,” a jubilant Guardiola said after lifting his fifth Premier League trophy.
“Arsenal bring what they have been in the past. They have been like Liverpool in previous seasons. They bring us again to our limits, otherwise we don’t bring this run of 12 games winning. After making 50 points in first leg, it would be impossible to catch them. They lost some points, we were there to push them.
“I don’t remember perfectly but we won a lot of games in a row to beat Liverpool in the past. They [Arsenal] have been similar. Liverpool arrived until the last game two or three times. The first leg from Arsenal, they did 50 points. I had the feeling they’d done something special and they would have to drop points and it would be difficult. But they’ve played exceptional. We were there and we didn’t give up.
“I’d not say it is more important. The first one when we did 100 points. Every game was win win win, goal goal goal, and the Premier Leagues have been so tight so this is not more special than the others. Everyone is.
“It’s not just the fifth Premier League in six years, it is seven in 12, that means more than a decade. If we started now, and you said we would win five out of the next season, I could not imagine it. This is what we have done. We don’t need one or decades to think about how good this was. We have the feeling we have done something exceptional in terms of the Premier League.”
Asked if he agreed that Arsenal ‘bottled’ the title race, having held a strong lead but falling to defeat in both head-to-head games with City, and taking just nine points from 24 to lose the race, Guardiola again defended the Gunners.
“It’s the tendency to underestimate. They are winners,” he said.
“We won two Premier Leagues from Liverpool from one point and they are winners. I don’t buy this product. Just because I got one point better than Liverpool we are better? We pushed Arsenal but they are exceptional.
“They should be proud of where they have come from. They have to sustain it, that is the reality, but for me they are winners. They made me think a lot what I had to do to beat them, and they did it to us. Our relentlessness and not giving up and having the feeling that we have to win today [every game] otherwise it would not be possible, helped us a lot.”