Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has never seen the Premier League this wide open yet he nonetheless undoubtedly declared his side would be up to defending the coveted title.
Competition is stiff, but that didn’t stop Guardiola from throwing down the gauntlet and saying his side would win the league despite a relatively dull start to their league campaign.
“If you ask me today about my feelings after the way we played against Liverpool and Tottenham, my feeling is that we will win the English Premier League,” the Man City boss said during the pre-match press briefing.
Until recently, it appeared that no one could challenge this City side, but an unexpected contender, among others, emerged—his former second-in-command, Mikel Arteta.
Undeniably, Guardiola has shown a penchant for achieving the impossible, evident in his recent triumph of a treble in the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup.
“Of course, I am concerned about conceding goals, but I believe we are performing at least at the same quality as last season when we won the treble.”
However, before Pep faces a coach familiar with his inner workings, Manchester City must confront a resurgent Aston Villa tonight.
Under the management of Unai Emery, Villa has evolved into a formidable opponent, showcasing Emery’s imprint on their football philosophy.
A win for Villa tonight would likely propel them past City in the standings.
Manchester City currently occupies third position in the English Premier League with 30 points, while Aston Villa is in fourth place with 29 points.
“The fact his teams and all the teams he’s managed, the effect is there. His print is already there,” Guardiola said about Emery.
“Always when he leaves, the teams are better in all departments, the results, the players, controlling high presses, deep, set pieces and transitions, it’s exceptional.
“I have a lot of admiration [for Emery]. Always it’s difficult [to face Aston Villa].”
Guardiola will have to lay down his strategy and hone his tactics tonight in the absence of Rodri and Grealish, both suspended.
“Rodri and Grealish will not be available for the Aston Villa match due to suspension; perhaps there is an opportunity for Calvin Phillips; we will see that after today’s training,” the Man City boss confirmed.
The last time Rodri was suspended, Manchester City suffered three consecutive losses without their midfielder.
Despite Manchester United facing Chelsea tonight—a game once regarded as sinfully unmissable—the spotlight will be on the Man City vs Villa match as the top four begins to take shape.
Meanwhile, Arsenal cemented their lead at the top of the table with an emphatic 3-4 win over Luton Town last night, thanks to Declan Rice’s stoppage time goal.