Premier League

Pep Guardiola names the crucial Arsenal loss that handed Man City title initiative

Fulham FC v Manchester City - Premier League

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s Premier League title “destiny” has been “in our hands” since rivals Arsenal lost to Aston Villa in mid April.

The reigning holders, who are aiming for a fourth straight championship success, shot back to the top of the table on Saturday with an easy 4-0 win at Fulham powered by two goals from defender Josko Gvardiol.

Man City are now two points ahead of Arsenal, who can retake first place on Sunday afternoon if they win at Manchester United. However, the Cityzens have a game in hand which arrives on Tuesday when they battle Tottenham Hotspur – victory there would put City in pole position heading into the final matchday of the season.

City and Arsenal are now separated in goal difference by just two after the hefty win at Craven Cottage, but Guardiola pinpointed the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat to Villa as the key moment which handed his side the initiative in the title race.

He said: “Goal difference won’t be involved I think. I think for it to be be involved, you have to draw, that means they will win. That means the difference will be three or four higher [from us] so I don’t think it will be the defining thing this season. Of course, we have scored three, four or five in this period – we’ve scored five or more a lot, but it’s not about that.

Fulham FC v Manchester City - Premier League

Phil Foden was among the scorers against Fulham / Gaspafotos/MB Media/GettyImages

“It’s about since they lost against Aston Villa, the destiny is in our hands. We handle it, it’s what we want, and since that moment against Aston Villa the destiny has been in our hands, it’s what we want.

“For that, you have to win the games we won in the past, especially the tough ones – Nottingham Forest, with less recovery. It’s always tough at Fulham, and now we have to go to Spurs where I never won [in the Premier League]. It will be difficult, but we are ready for it.”

Arsenal must now win at Old Trafford – a ground where they have been victorious in just one of their 16 Premier League games since 2007/08 – and hope City falter against Tottenham and West Ham United to claim their 14th top-flight title.

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