Pep Guardiola expects Arsenal to be even more dangerous against Manchester City due to their wretched run of form in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger’s side have dropped to sixth after losing four of their last five top-flight matches, including a 3-1 defeat to West Brom before the international break.
A defeat to City at Emirates Stadium on Sunday would leave Arsenal facing an uphill battle in the race for the Champions League places and would likely prompt further calls from some fans for Wenger to walk away as manager.
Guardiola, however, believes a wounded Arsenal will pose a sterner test for his players than they would if they were enjoying a winning run.
“They are professional, Arsene is so professional and the players as well,” Guardiola told a news conference. “They want to win every game.
“When you lose a lot of games, it’s a more dangerous moment to face them. I would prefer Arsenal with a lot of wins.
“Everybody knows them. There’s quality in the side, with Alexis [Sanchez] going in perfect runs inside with [Theo] Walcott, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain. Good quality. Arsenal are a top team.
“I travelled there with Barcelona and Bayern Munich and it was always so difficult. We won once or twice, sometimes we lose, sometimes we draw.
“It’s always difficult at the Emirates against a tough team [who are] always fighting to be in the top four.
“Every game is a new one, so every game is a new situation. I think against the big teams – except, I said many times, White Hart Lane [where City lost 2-0 to Tottenham] – we played good all the games and deserved more than we achieved.”
Wenger is yet to announce whether he will extend his contract beyond this season, with his position under increasing scrutiny due to the Gunners’ recent results and protests from supporters who want him to leave.
Guardiola, however, says those fans calling for his head will change their tune when Arsenal’s form improves.
“We are strong when we win and we are weak when we are not winning,” he said. “When [Wenger] goes back to winning, the fans will be happy again. I promise you. One hundred per cent.
“I’m pretty sure the fans respect what Arsene Wenger has done and what he’s doing. When the bosses decide or Arsene decides, he believes it will be the best decision for Arsene and for Arsenal.
“For the fans, and the journalists, it depends on the results – nothing else.”