Pep Guardiola spurned suggestions that Manchester City’s four Premier League trophies in five seasons will give them an advantage in the title race.
Erling Haaland’s spot-kick secured City a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday to ensure Guardiola’s men kept pace with leaders Arsenal, on course for their first title since 2003-04.
Boss Guardiola, however, remained unconvinced by the notion that City’s winning ways over the past half-decade will give them the edge as they look to unseat the Gunners in the business end of the season.
He said: “Listen, if experience works the team who wins the previous season will win every single season. Experience in sport is a new challenge.
“Look, Liverpool (on Saturday) lost to Bournemouth. A few months ago (they won) 9-0, you know everything is so difficult.
“What they have done is the past. You have to do it again, because football is unpredictable. Nobody expects, many things happen in football that people take for granted or guarantee and it is not the truth. The reality is that still we are there.”
Guardiola suggested Arsenal’s best crack at a Premier League title since the Invincibles’ unbeaten run could in fact be giving the Gunners extra fuel as they look forward to the final stretch – including a trip to the Etihad on April 26 – before the campaign closes.
“Arsenal are still the favourites because they are up front. They have for many years not won the Premier League, they give you this extra that helps you win games in (1991), 1998,” said Guardiola, reflecting on Arsenal’s past Premier League title in 1997-98 and Football League First Division trophy in 1990-91.
“That is something they have that we don’t have, because we won back-to-back two times. That’s why, when people say ‘what about Europe, about the team, about the season?’, after two times back-to-back in which one team have had 50 points in the first (half of the season), still we are there.
“Normally in this country, when you win a lot and you don’t start the season well, or someone is a bit better, you drop it. You are not this consistent.
“Still we are there. This is the best ‘trophy’, and compliment, that we can have. I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season, but still they know that we want to be there. And we will fight to be there, and this is great.”
Haaland’s penalty at Selhurst Park extended his Premier League-leading tally to 28 goals and 34th across all competitions.
That is seven more than opponents Crystal Palace – who remain winless in 2023 – have collectively managed to net all season, with the Eagles unable to register a shot on target in their last three matches.
Palace have also failed to score in 12 of their 26 Premier League contests and increasingly face the threat of slipping deeper into the trenches of the relegation battle.
Manager Patrick Vieira said: “This is the reality. It’s important to be more consistent overall in our game, how to defend well and how to create more chances to score those goals that we need.
“But yes, of course we are part of the nine teams who will have to fight and to win games to stay in the Premier League.”