'Arsenal are back' and will be title contenders again
Arsenal were Manchester City's biggest rivals last season and the London club will once again be contenders for the Premier League title, City boss Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Arsenal led the league for several months last season before City caught up on the home stretch and snatched the title away from them en route to an historic treble.
But Mikel Arteta's side beat City to win the Community Shield and are one of two unbeaten teams in the league this season. Arsenal sit third in the table, a point behind leaders City ahead of Sunday's game at Emirates Stadium.
"Arsenal was the biggest rival last season. In the past they were not there. They have already arrived and they will stay there for a long time," Guardiola told reporters, adding that Arsenal and Liverpool are their biggest title rivals.
"They (Arsenal) are a good team... They have a clear pattern. They fought to be champions and now they're here again. Arsenal are back.
"When I was a young boy and at Barcelona, Arsenal always were there and now they're back. Going to the Emirates is one of the toughest games."
City suffered their first league defeat last weekend at Wolverhampton Wanderers but Guardiola said he expects a different game as Arsenal will not sit back and defend at home.
"For Wolves it's completely different to Arsenal. Wolves defend from minute one. I don't think with Arsenal that's going to happen. We have to adapt, we know each other quite well and we'll see," he added.
City have beaten Arsenal in their last 12 league meetings but Guardiola's side will have to cope without the suspended Rodri, a key figure in midfield.
"We will talk with the staff today, analyse tomorrow. We are preparing tomorrow," Guardiola said.
"Rodri is one of the two or three best holding midfielders in the world, it is normal, it is big that he is not in the team. He's not there. We've moved forward with absences over many years. We will play without him on Sunday."
On the injury front, Guardiola said Kevin De Bruyne is getting better but will not be in contention while John Stones, who was named in the England squad, would not be ready for the weekend clash either.