Pep: ‘Most important title’ will keep us focused for Arsenal

Date published: Wednesday 28th February 2018 7:19

Pep Guardiola is confident Sunday’s Carabao Cup success will not affect his players’ focus as they return to Premier League action.

The runaway leaders switch their attention back to the title race for the first time in almost three weeks as they travel to Arsenal for a rearranged game on Thursday.

City overpowered the Gunners to win at Wembley at the weekend, securing their first trophy under Guardiola, but the Spaniard insists celebrations are done and players are concentrating on business once again.

“To win more trophies is to win another game,” said Guardiola, whose side will bid to restore a 16-point lead at the top at the Emirates Stadium. “In football, always forget what you have done, good or bad, and think in the next one.

“The fact we are fighting for the most important title of the season by far, the Premier League – more than the Champions League, more than the FA Cup, more than the Carabao Cup – is enough argument to focus and stay focused.

“Our next six fixtures are terrible in terms of the quality of the opponents. We have four (away) games and of course we have a good position but it is not already done. We have still to win five games, six games.

“When you think Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, (Manchester) United and our away games at Stoke City, who are playing (to avoid) relegation, and Goodison Park, where always it is so tough, we have a lot of tough games still to play and we have to remain focused.”

Arsenal were heavily criticised after their lacklustre showing at Wembley, where they were outplayed and lost 3-0 to City.

Guardiola claims that will have little bearing on Thursday’s encounter.

He said: “Arsenal is always a hard game and when they play, they are a tough, tough, tough team at the Emirates.

“Maybe they were not consistent enough but at home they are so strong. I don’t know how many points they dropped but not too much. The times I have always been there with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City have always been tough.”

City will be without midfielder Fernandinho, who suffered a hamstring injury at Wembley, and forward Raheem Sterling is again doubtful with a muscle problem.

Fernandinho’s absence could present an opportunity for veteran Yaya Toure to return to the fray ahead of his expected departure from the club this summer.

Toure, 34, has featured just 11 times this season and has not been in a matchday squad for the past four games.

Asked about the possibility of Toure being involved, Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference: “It depends on him. It is simple like that. If he is coming back who he is, he is going to play.”


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