Mikel Arteta insists he still fancies his Arsenal side to finish the campaign as champions despite seeing them lose 3-1 at home to Manchester City and hand over top place in the Premier League.
Arsenal were on top of the game for a good spell against the current champions but were guilty of making mistakes at key moments as City secured a crucial three points that leaves them ahead of the Gunners on goal difference, thanks to goals from Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland.
Arsenal, however, have a game in hand (at home to Everton on Wednesday 1st March) and can also return quickly to the top if they win a lunchtime kick-off at Aston Villa on Saturday, before City go to Nottingham Forest.
Speaking after the game, Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said: “I have more belief that we can win the title now because I saw a team that went head-to-head with Manchester City, the best team in the world.
“To beat them we have to be above our level because they are such a great team. I think we matched them but the games like this are defined by individual moments.
“What’s disappointing is that we lost this match. We lost it ourselves. It was an incredible battle between two teams and we had them. But then we gave them goals. If you do that they will destroy you.
“On top of that we had three big chances and we didn’t put them away.
“So, the performance was really good – if you take away that you gave Manchester City three goals.”
As for Pep Guardiola, he was in no mood to talk up City’s title chances despite a vital victory in which his team overcame a poor first half display to find a way through Arsenal.
He said: “They have one game in hand so still I consider them leaders and many things are going to happen. We are not going to win every game and hopefully not our contenders either.
“What’s important is the victory against this team in this stadium. But there are still many many games to play for everyone.”
Guardiola, too, was far from content with his team’s overall display, criticising himself for tactics in the first half which saw Arsenal dominate the ball – and left City firing long balls up to Haaland.
“I decided to try something new and it was horrible,” he said.
“We let them play in the build-up and they found the space behind. In the second half we addressed it. We controlled the ball and played more.
“We are built as a team that goes as a crazy team. When you wait and float then we are not who we are.
“In the second half were more aggressive, winning duels and we were much better. We were more aggressive in our high pressing and we made the extra pass.“