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'Arsenal were better' | Pep Guardiola on the 'coin toss' nature of the Premier League

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that his side were fortunate to beat a 'much better' Arsenal side on the first day of the New Year.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that his side were fortunate to beat a 'much better' Arsenal side on the first day of the New Year.

While there were some controversial VAR moments in the first Premier League match of 2022, City took home a late 2-1 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates.

Bukayo Saka put the hosts in the lead in the first half before a Riyad Mahrez penalty levelled matters midway through the second.

The controversy continued in the second half, though, as Gabriel was yellow carded once for scuffing the penalty spot, before being shown a second yellow just two minutes later for a block on Gabriel Jesus.

It took a late Rodri goal in injury time for Manchester City to secure the victory against the 10-man Arsenal side.

Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Guardiola addressed his side's lack of energy against Arsenal.

"They were better," Guardiola said. "They started the season at the bottom, and now they are in the top four.

"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.

"We know that in the transitions, [Gabriel] Martinelli, [Alexandre] Lacazette, the physicality that they have, it should be difficult and it was difficult, because we didn't have energy."

While he acknowledged that his side were fortunate to get the win, Guardiola suggested that that is the nature of the Premier League.

"In football, we try to analyse many things," Guardiola said. "The coin sometimes falls down on your side, sometimes the other. That is the reality.

"At the same time, we know what it means to win here in the Emirates, against Arsenal. We knew it was difficult and now we have time to rest."

VAR controversy - 'I could not see it'

The equalising penalty from Mahrez was awarded only after the VAR asked the referee to review an incident in the box.

However, a challenge on Martin Ødegaard in the City penalty area could have given Arsenal a penalty before the equaliser, which was not referred by the VAR.

Guardiola, however, could not say for sure that the first incident would have been a penalty, as he 'did not see it'.

"I didn't see the penalty from them because they didn't show it on the screen," Guardiola said. "They showed the screen for the Bernardo [Silva].

"So, I could not see the penalty from Ødegaard, the potential penalty, so I could not say it."

Manchester City Arsenal

Manchester City have now won 11 matches in a row in the Premier League. They are also currently 11 points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table, although Chelsea still have Liverpool to face on Sunday.

While his City side are currently way out in front, Guardiola does not believe that City are guaranteed to win the League at this stage, as COVID-19 might still affect the outcome of the season.

"It is unlikely," Guardiola said. "Eleven games in a row, that's so great!

"In this period, just take a look at out bench today, there was four guys from the academy. So, we had many cases from COVID decisions and injuries.

"We were incredibly tired; mentally and physically. So, they were better. Arsenal was better today. Sometimes it comes on our side."


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Arsenal Chelsea Emirates Gabriel Gabriel Jesus Manchester City Martinelli Pep Guardiola Premier League Xhaka