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MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola has cranked up the mind games ahead of Manchester City‘s top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal by claiming their rival’s title wobble has made the game harder.

Mikel Arteta’s side travel to the Etihad Stadium having dropped six points in two weeks thanks to a run of three straight draws. It has put City — five points behind with two games in hand — in pole position to win the Premier League for the fifth time in six years, but Guardiola insists he would prefer to be facing an Arsenal team in form.

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“Always, I had the feeling that it would have been so difficult to play them at this stage, but after three games dropping points it will be much much more difficult now,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday. “I would have preferred it if they had come here with better results than the three last results they didn’t win a game.

“So always it would be difficult, but with these results it will be much more difficult.”

City, unbeaten since February, have won their last 11 league games against Arsenal by an aggregate score of 29-4 while the Gunners’ last win at the Etihad came more than eight years ago in January 2015.

Arsenal have already lost twice to City this season — once in the league and once in the FA Cup — but Guardiola said he will still be nervous ahead of kickoff on Wednesday.

“It is a good sign, being a little bit nervous,” Guardiola said. “When I feel that feeling I know it’s normal. The problem would be if I didn’t have that feeling.

“At the same time, after the game, whatever happens, good or bad or whatever you say ‘it’s just part of the game’ and we look to the next one, and I like to live this kind of… adrenaline, I would say would be best to define this, the adrenaline that you have.

“But in the end, I sleep quite well. That is not a problem.”

Guardiola does have a selection problem to deal with ahead of the crucial fixture, though, with Nathan Ake ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Ake has been City’s regular left-back following Joao Cancelo’s departure to Bayern Munich in January and Guardiola is likely to choose between Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Gomez to fill in.

“Hopefully he can come back soon, but [against Arsenal] he is out,” said Guardiola. “I don’t know about [the Champions League semifinal against] Madrid. We will find the right player to do it, I don’t have doubts about that. We’ll play with 11.”

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Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola wary of Arsenal run of form