Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City need time to move to top form after a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday to move up three points from the top of the Premier League table. City dropped points from their previous two league games before the international break, and injured Kevin de Bruyne and meric Merrick Lapertwina were again far from their free-flowing best. But after a short pre-season and several coronavirus tests and injuries, Guardiola is satisfied to be back in the pack at the top of the table.
“Unfortunately we want to play. We can’t last 0 minutes, but these games help us achieve that,” she told Guardiola.
“We need time to grow as a team. I think this game will help us take it one step further.”
Elsewhere in the English top-flight, on a fast-scoring day, a more cautious confrontation ensued between Guardiola and his former assistant Mikel Arteta due to mutual respect.
When the two last met in the FA Cup semi-finals in July, Arteta did well with his old boss and Guardiola changed the system to a 5-5-20-20 to deal with the Ordinance.
This put Rahim Sterling in front, along with Sergio Aguero, who is making his first appearance since June.
And Bird Leno was the only goal sterling to score after Phil Foden’s early efforts.
“He is our best striker right now to learn more about scoring goals,” he added.
‘Go too far’
Arsenal have been unbeaten in one of the ‘Big Six’ 29 games since January 201.
And despite the encouraging performances, the fact that they have lost again in the first five games of the campaign at Liverpool and Etihad shows how much more Arteta has to do to restore the Gunners to the title.
“We’ve come a long way,” Arteta said. “I’m upset because I think we deserve more from the game.
“I’m very happy with the performance, the attitude and the courage we have today. I can’t demand more from the players without the three big opportunities you have.”
Arsenal had two big chances in the first half as City goalkeeper Ederson turned them down.
Bukayo Saka was the biggest threat to the visitors, and the 1-year-old boy was turned down by the flashy Ederson after a couple of moments with Pierre-Ericke Obmeyang.
Obamayang was very close to the Brazilian stopper and even when he hoisted the line-on flag, it was a one-act play.
Arsene Wenger also saw punitive appeals to the chattering ears, with the final action of the half-century challenging Gabriel Maglahes in the field when Casey Walker’s high foot was not being punished.
De Bruyne lost his presence as he failed to control the game once again in front of the city.
Leicester won 2-1 at Essihad and Leeds qualified after a blistering opener from City before the international break.
From the strength of the attack over the past three seasons, the city has enjoyed sitting on their lead after the break.
But Nicholas Pepe’s weak header, which Darson easily claimed, was the closest bowler to Arsenal, blocking the Golmoth action in the second period.