Liverpool are clear favourites to win Premier League title – Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has admitted his Manchester City side are playing at a higher level than title contenders Liverpool and Arsenal, but has stated that Jurgen Klopp’s men are the “clear favourites” to end the Premier League campaign on top.

The reigning champions were dealt a blow in their pursuit of a record-breaking fourth successive top-flight title as they were held to a goalless draw by a resilient Arsenal outfit at the Etihad Stadium on Easter Sunday.

Nathan Ake came closest to scoring for the Citizens early in the first half when he glanced a close-range header into the gloves of David Raya, before limping off with an injury, but the hosts struggled to find a way through a well-organised Gunners backline.

Guardiola’s men were eventually forced to settle for a share of the spoils and their first 0-0 draw in the Premier League since March 2022 against Crystal Palace, ending a run of 75 consecutive league matches without a goalless game.

City’s draw with Arsenal also represented the first time they failed to find the net in a Premier League home fixture since a 2-0 defeat to Palace in October 2021, with a 47-game scoring run at the Etihad coming to an end.

Man City remain third in the Premier League table and one point behind Mikel Arteta’s men in second placed, but the Citizens now sit three points behind new leaders Liverpool, who came from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at Anfield earlier on Sunday afternoon.

Guardiola was asked at his post-match press conference if Liverpool are now the clear favourites to win the title, and he replied: “Yes. Always who is first is favourites, second is Arsenal and we are third.

“It was in our hands, now it’s not. 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.”

Bernardo Silva echoed Guardiola’s views, telling Sky Sports News: “A lot can happen. 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.

“Last April, [Arsenal] went man-to-man for the whole game and when you do that is a bit of a 50-50. Today it was a different [Arsenal] team, more experience. They have young players that are now one year more experienced. They felt what it was to play here last season and today they were much better.”

Although Man City find themselves at the back of the queue in a three-way title race, they have put together a 14-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, picking up points in their last two games against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Heading into their final nine top-flight fixtures of the campaign, Guardiola believes his Citizens side are performing better than their title rivals at present.

Asked who is playing at the highest level, the Catalan boss confidently said: “Right now? Man City”. Reacting to the surprise on the reporter’s face, Guardiola added: “Your reaction, you don’t agree?

“You pretend it’s 7-0 every week for six years. I recognise my team, the proposals and how we pressed high. We conceded one or two crosses.

“The way Arsenal monopolise the game… we didn’t give away many corners. It’s difficult. We’ve played against low block sometimes and Arsenal are exceptional. Well managed and the players are really good.

“You have to knock the door of another manager and see if he can do it. As a team we’re still there. We could have more in some aspects, but I’m satisfied. I told the team don’t be sad. You give credit to Arsenal for the things they do.”

Man City are back in action on Wednesday night when they welcome top-four hopefuls Aston Villa to the Etihad, before travelling to Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime.



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