Belfast Telegraph

I'd love to swap positions with league leaders Liverpool, admits City boss Guardiola

Manchester City beat Arsenal to move two points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, who play West Ham on Monday evening.

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola
Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick took Manchester City back within two points of Liverpool (Nick Potts/PA)

Pep Guardiola claimed the pressure remained on Manchester City despite overpowering Arsenal to turn the heat up on Liverpool on Sunday.

Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as the champions moved back to second and cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League to two points with a 3-1 success at the Etihad Stadium.

The onus is now on the Reds to respond as they play their game in hand at West Ham on Monday night.

But Guardiola said: “I prefer to be in the position of Liverpool. The pressure is when you are behind and you lose points. That’s tougher.”

City proved too strong for the Gunners, even though there was an element of controversy over Aguero’s third goal.

The ball struck the Argentinian’s arm as he bundled in from close range just after the hour – something he admitted later – but it was deemed unintentional. It secured his 14th hat-trick for City and his 10th in the Premier League, one short of Alan Shearer’s competition record.

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Aguero bundled in his third goal off his arm (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Today he fought and did everything for the team,” said Guardiola of Aguero’s fine all-round performance.

“From the beginning, I was very pleased. In the first season, people said I didn’t like him but always I was delighted.

“I judge the intention. The intention from Sergio was always perfect since we’ve been together.”

Aguero scored the opener after just 46 seconds – netting in the first minute for the second successive game – and added a second just before the break after Laurent Koscielny equalised.

After that City went on to dominate the second half as Arsenal, who failed to register another shot, seemingly focused on damage limitation. It was a fine response after Tuesday’s shock loss at Newcastle and bodes well for further tough games against Everton and Chelsea in the coming days.

“The important thing is to be ourselves,” Guardiola said. “At Newcastle we didn’t recognise our team. The players knew that. Here we came back.”

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Arsenal were outplayed by City (Nick Potts/PA)

For Arsenal, the result meant they lost ground over the weekend, slipping from fourth to sixth with Chelsea and Manchester United overtaking them.

Manager Unai Emery said: “They showed their superiority today over 90 minutes. I think the result is the difference between Manchester City and Arsenal. They held their level in 90 minutes and our level in the second half was worse than the first.

“We are going to go game by game, thinking ‘win the next match’ and maybe if we win we can take the opportunity in the near future to be near the other teams.”

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