Pep Guardiola does not believe Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal will decide the outcome of the Premier League title race but wants Manchester City to take destiny into their own hands.
City, who have booked their place in the last four of the Champions League and the FA Cup final, will move within two points of Arsenal, with two games in hand, should they beat the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium.
Arsenal have drawn their last three league games, while City have won 11 of their previous 12 outings across all competitions.
Asked if there was a reason behind City’s menacing form, Guardiola told reporters: “When, early in the season, we lost games, people said it was physicality, that it was not good – that is, bulls***.
“Many things are involved in a game. We know now if we lose games, the situation will be over, so that’s why when you are in October, November, you cannot have that feeling, especially after back-to-back championships.
“In the year when we won our first title [2017-18], when we got 100 points, we started the season like every game is a final.
“When we started this season after back-to-back Premier League titles, we did not have that feeling, every game was not a final. Now it is.
“Now we have arrived with the chance in our heads. If Arsenal win, the destiny is in their hands, but if we win, the destiny is in our hands.”
On whether Wednesday’s encounter was the decisive game in the title race, Guardiola said: “It’s really important. Not decisive because still many tough games for both sides but we cannot deny how important it is.
“When you play these kind of teams, it is about everything. Arsenal have always had incredible details and care on the ball, all the players they select to play for the club have the biggest quality, biggest skills.
“Mikel [Arteta] has brought another dimension, they are big competitors, so aggressive. They control a lot of aspects. This isn’t anything new. In the two games we’ve played this season, we felt it, and you have to challenge them or with the speed, intensity they have and quality they have in the build-up, it’s difficult.”
Arteta said his team will need to be “perfect” to beat City, though Guardiola does not see perfection as being attainable.
“Perfection doesn’t exist in football, you cannot be perfect in the game,” he said. “We know what happened against Bayern Munich and in the future against top teams, your standard has to be really high.
“They demand to be really good, so we have to do what we can to impose our game.”