Pep Guardiola has praised the efforts of his depleted Manchester City squad for their 2-1 win at Arsenal, though insisted that the hosts were the better team in their meeting on New Year’s Day.
Arsenal were afforded a rest after their Boxing Day thrashing of Norwich as a result of their clash with Wolves being postponed, but City had to face Brentford late on Wednesday night before then returning to London for Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff.
And Guardiola said that while it was understandable for the performance level of his players to have dropped, Arsenal nonetheless played well.
“They were better,” Guardiola admitted in his post-match press conference. “We faced a team that in the last years they’ve struggled to be in the top four.
“They started this season in the bottom and they are in the top four and they have six or seven days after the last game against Norwich.
“We have two days and a half [rest] and Brentford was so tough, we came back to Manchester and we didn’t have energy, that’s why we tried to put one more player in the middle to have more control and more passes.
“In football we try to analyse many things but the coin sometimes falls down on your side, sometimes the other side, so that is the reality. In this period today we were incredibly tired so mental and physically they were better, Arsenal was better today.”
City started the game on top but were overrun by Arsenal midway through the first half, culminating in Bukayo Saka’s opener.
The visitors needed VAR to help award them a second-half penalty after Granit Xhaka brought down Bernardo Silva, with Riyad Mahrez’s spot kick their first effort on target.
Arsenal defender Gabriel then picked up two silly bookings to receive his marching orders, but the Gunners largely kept City at bay until Rodri netted the winner in stoppage time.