Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admitted the tension of the Premier League title race is getting to him as his side close in on Arsenal ahead of Wednesday’s top-of-the-table clash.
The Gunners hold a five-point lead over the defending champions, but momentum is on City’s side as they have two games in hand and have seen Arsenal draw their last three matches.
Guardiola is going for his fifth Premier League title in seven seasons in England, but believes nerves are a good sign that he still has the hunger for more success.
“It is a good sign, being a little bit nervous,” said the Catalan coach at his pre-match press conference.
Being nervous is part of our lives, being anxious is part of our lives, being scared is part of our lives. We don’t have to be perfect.
“When we educate our kids, they (think they) have to be perfect for Instagram and TikToks, and this kind of thing, they have to be a genius.
“But I would say the uncertainty, things that happen before a game, happen. When I feel that feeling I know it’s normal. The problem would be if I didn’t have that feeling.”
The bookmakers now make City favourites to not only defend their title, but go on to match Manchester United’s feat in 1998/99 as the only English side to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in the same season.
However, Guardiola warned he expects a reaction from Arsenal after seeing their lead chipped away in recent weeks by draws with Liverpool, West Ham and bottom-of-the-table Southampton.
“Always I had the feeling that it would be so difficult to play them at this stage but, after three games dropping points, it will be much, much more difficult now,” added Guardiola.
“I would have preferred it if they had come here with better results than the three last results when they didn’t win a game.”
Both sides will be missing key defenders as City are without Nathan Ake, while William Saliba’s continued absence poses a headache for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.
Without the Frenchman, Arsenal have conceded seven goals in their last three games and must find a way of keeping City’s 48-goal marksman Erling Haaland quiet.
But Arteta has encouraged his young side to embrace the “incredible” opportunity they have to shock the football world by bouncing back at the Etihad to keep the destiny of the title in their own hands with five games to go.
“It is going to be a tough night and challenge, yes, but the opportunity is incredible for us,” said the Spaniard.
“You want to be champion, you have to win these matches, it is as simple as that.”