Pep Guardiola expects Manchester City to lose before the conclusion of the Premier League season. We don’t.
Their 21st of 38 fixtures concluded on Sunday in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, leaving them undefeated and with the remarkable total of 19 victories.
That they also set a divisional record of 18 consecutive wins led to widespread descriptions of them as English football’s finest ever team, and at Palace they avoided defeat when Ederson saved Luka Milivojevic’s late penalty.
The Arsenal “Invincibles” of 2004 are widely recognised as among England’s finest after they remained undefeated for an entire league season. They similarly narrowly avoided defeat at Manchester United when Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a penalty against them during a competitive 0-0 draw.
Guardiola, however, does not believe their achievement will be emulated, and largely because of the improvement that has been seen in domestic football since.
“That is not going to happen,” he said. “I am not thinking to be unbeaten. Maybe Arsene (Wenger) is worried about that but I tell him many times that 2004 run is for him.
“Today is completely different to 2004. Here are now more strong teams, a lot of competitions, a lot of games. That is not going to happen. I try to win the game, and especially focus on Watford (on Tuesday).”
The Spaniard, 46, also refused to rule out a fresh approach for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez after Gabriel Jesus suffered a suspected knee injury at Selhurst Park.
City attempted to sign Sanchez, whose contract expires at the season’s end and who Guardiola also once signed for Barcelona, during the summer transfer window.
Jesus is expected to be missing for up to two months and – when asked about Sanchez – the manager responded: “We will have meetings and see what is best.
“He is a player from Arsenal and I think he is going to stay at Arsenal. Now (the priority) is just to recover from today. Sometimes you ask for that but I have a lot of things in my mind. In two days, we have another game (at home to Watford). But now Alexis is an Arsenal player.”
Palace’s Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon also suffered injuries, the latter in a challenge that also injured Kevin De Bruyne.
Despite those blows and seeing his team waste the chance to secure victory by missing a late penalty for the second time this month, Roy Hodgson insisted he took significant satisfaction from Palace earning a point.
“With five or six minutes to go I was thinking more in terms of making sure we didn’t lose our point than going on to win it,” said the 70-year-old.
“It was an opportunity that came as a great bonus.”