Pep Guardiola expects Manchester City to face tougher title race

Arsenal transfer news

Arsenal transfer news

Guardiola has no doubt Arsenal, who are at the start of a new era under Unai Emery, can prove to be one of the challengers.

Several teams strengthened in the summer and managers have been up and about to ensure their squads are up to par.

"Even when you are ideal, the other team can be better". He didn't play in Manchester City's win over Chelsea in the Community Shield.

Tactically, it would be more of the same for Manchester City - their fluid transitions and quick executions of intricate passing moves are likely to get more precise. Beating your title rivals always plays a big factor in the end, and while it remains to be seen if this Arsenal team has what it takes, three points here will bring huge excitement early in the season.

Despite last season's stunning achievements, Guardiola was his usual guarded self when talking about City's prospects for the year ahead, believing as many as five other teams could prevent him from becoming the first manager in a decade to retain the title.

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Arsenal are an unknown quantity going into the new campaign, something which should excite and also intrigue fans.

"Raheem and Kevin had three weeks off after the World Cup, which is not too much time (for pre-season) but they both arrived in the ideal way".

That coupled with their exceptional midfield and options in forward areas mean they'll be favourites again this season.

City have great depth, though, and the Gunners could be in for a hard afternoon as they try to welcome their new era in with a win on Sunday. Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira is surely the first-choice trio for the season but the Welshman's injury could open the door for Matteo Guendouzi to start after an impressive preseason.

Another problem area is the left-back slot. The Brazilian has made this position his own and will be a certainty for City in this position not only in this match but throughout the season provided he his fully fit.

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Arsenal are also without long-term casualty Laurent Koscielny, while England global Danny Welbeck also misses out.

Guardiola does recognise, however, that City do come into the new campaign from a good starting point following last season's successes.

Kevin De Bruyne missed out on the clash against Chelsea, but he is fully expected to start against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.

He'll be among the players Arsenal will have to keep a close eye on if they're to stand any chance of getting a result.

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