Men's Team

Guardiola praises City's character after Arsenal fightback

Pep Guardiola hailed the character and endurance of his City team as we marked our first game of 2022 by recording a dramatic 2-1 win at Arsenal to make it 11 Premier League victories in a row.

Having gone in 1-0 down at the break to an impressive Gunners, City drew level through a Riyad Mahrez penalty on 57 minutes.

But deep into injury time it looked as though both sides would mark the New Year by sharing the spoils when Rodrigo – back in the side after missing the last two games – fired home from close range to claim victory and extend our lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

It was a remarkable end to a game that no shortage of drama, with Arsenal having been reduced to 10 men after Gabriel was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

And reflecting on the win, the Guardiola said it was a huge achievement – all the more so coming at the end of a draining period which saw City play nine times since December 1st in all competitions – and with COVID-19 cases also causing issues throughout football and society.

"(Winning) 11 games in a row is so great in this period,” said Guardiola.

“Just take a look at our bench today, it was four guys from the Academy.

"We had many cases from COVID this season and injuries. Phil Foden, Kyle today and Rodri the first day since COVID time.

“This period today we were incredibly tired, mentally and physically. Arsenal were better today, but football happens in these situations, sometimes it comes on our side.

"Congratulations (to my players).

"We are not a team to (normally) score goals in extra time. I don’t remember the last time we scored a goal after 90 minutes!

“Maybe two or three years ago when Raheem put the ball in the net against Southampton.

“We’re not a team with this characteristic but of course with 10 v 11 they changed with five at the back and tried to win the game.

"Arsenal were better, we faced a team in the last years who struggled to be in the top four and started the season at the bottom, but they are in the top four now and had six or seven days from last game.

"We had two and a half, we came back and didn’t have energy. That’s why we tried to put one more in the middle to have control and more passes."

With Nathan Ake having cleared off the line from Aymeric Laporte’s back header, and Arsenal also creating a number of chances of their own, it was a game that had absolutely everything.

And the boss said it was another classic example of the slim margins that exist in the Premier League and was another huge result for his players.

“Football, we try to analyse many things, but it can be like a coin. Sometimes it’s on your side, sometimes it’s not,” Guardiola added.

“That’s the reality, but at the same time we know how much it means to win here at the Emirates against Arsenal, the moment they’re in.

“We knew it was difficult and now we have time to rest."