Man City level ‘not seen before’, says Arteta as Guardiola eyes ‘final’

Manchester City have “raised the bar to levels not seen before in football” but Arsenal are “getting closer”, says Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

Premier League leaders Arsenal visit Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with third-placed City one point behind as the title race nears a thrilling climax.

It is the first time in 10 years that only one point separates the top three after 28 games, with Liverpool second.

“It’s a massive game for both teams,” said Arteta.

“It will give us a massive boost if we win but there is a lot of games to go after that.”

Manchester City, bidding for a fourth successive title, have won 12 of their past 13 league matches against Arsenal, with their only defeat a 1-0 loss at Emirates Stadium earlier this season.

“To win the Premier League you have to win almost all games I would say,” said City boss Pep Guardiola. “I don’t think Arsenal and Liverpool are going to drop much points.

“The experience Liverpool have in this situation, the quality of Arsenal winning I don’t know how many games in a row, scoring lots of goals…. That’s why [Sunday] is the final, absolutely. We play a final.”

City are looking to complete back-to-back Trebles, with a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid and FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea coming up.

“They have raised the bar to levels not seen before in football,” said Arteta. “You have to keep up with that pace and that is what we are trying to do.

“We learned from the level, it’s the level we want to be at. We are getting closer in the past two or three years. We need to close that gap and try to be better than them.

“They have earned the right for everyone to look at them as an example. It has raised our level and demands to try and be like them and beat them.”

City will be without England defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker after both suffered injuries while on international duty.

Walker went off early on during the Three Lions’ 1-0 defeat by Brazil with a hamstring problem, while Stones limped out of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Belgium because of an adductor issue.

But Kevin de Bruyne should be available having missed the FA Cup win over Newcastle, as well as Belgium’s friendlies with the Republic of Ireland and England.

“Kyle’s [injury is] more tough than John’s but they will be out – I don’t know for how many games,” said Guardiola.

“Kevin is so important. It has been a tough season for him with injuries. He has been out for a long time but he trained really well yesterday [Thursday]. We will see what he does in the next days.”

Meanwhile, Arteta said “there is a chance” Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel will all be fit for Sunday’s game.

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