Xavi gives verdict on title race as Man City and Man Utd chase Arsenal
Barcelona boss Xavi ‘would not dare’ to predict the outcome of the ‘very exciting’ Premier League title race but insists he is not surprised by Mikel Arteta’s success at Arsenal.
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Despite their recent wobble, Arsenal are two points clear of Manchester City and five ahead of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
The Gunners only finished fifth last season and are seeking a first league title since 2004, when Arsene Wenger was in charge.
Second-placed Man City are aiming to win the Premier League for the fifth time since 2018, while local rivals Man United have not lifted the league title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
Xavi has his own title race to worry about – Barcelona are currently eight points clear of La Liga rivals Real Madrid – but was asked about the Premier League battle ahead of his side’s Europa League decider against Manchester United.
‘Arsenal, Man City and Man United are going to have a very exciting finale,’ Xavi told The Times.
‘They are all playing very well, they are all strong, but the [league] is very demanding, I would not dare to give a winner. I have maximum respect for all three teams.’
Three years apart in age, Xavi and Arteta were in Barcelona’s academy at the same time, although the now-Arsenal boss never featured for the club’s first-team.
Despite the fact Arteta left Barca at the age of 16, Xavi believes his time spent at the Nou Camp and working under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City stood him in good stead ahead of his managerial career.
Asked if he has been surprised by Arteta’s impact at Arsenal, Xavi said: ‘No, he’s not surprised me because he had the best references [Pep Guardiola] and because if you have played as a central midfielder at Barca you already have a head start – you have the map of your pitch in your head.
‘And because Pepe Reina [the former Spain goalkeeper] is a close friend of his and has always spoken very well of him. I had a feeling that Arteta would do very well, but it was just a feeling.
‘He is doing very well and taking a chance on the young players, which has even more merit.’
Premier League leaders Arsenal return to action on Saturday with a trip to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City.
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