Rodri taunts Arsenal after title triumph: ‘They didn’t want to beat us’

Rodri taunts Arsenal after title triumph: 'They didn't want to beat us'

Rodri has taken a swipe at Arsenal’s mentality by revealing how their rival’s defensive approach at the Etihad Stadium gave Manchester City all the encouragement they needed in the Premier League title race.

City and Arsenal played out a drab goalless draw at the Etihad in late March when Mikel Arteta’s side adopted an ultra-cautious set-up that saw them have just 27 per cent possession in the game.

Rodri claimed City would never have approached a game at the Emirates Stadium in such a way and that Arsenal’s tactics gave the champions all the impetus they needed as they went on to win their remaining nine league games and clinch an unprecedented fourth consecutive title by two points from the north London club.

“It’s in here, the mentality,” the City midfielder said when asked what made the difference.

“There are great players all over the league, all over the clubs, Arsenal also. They did an unbelievable season but the difference was in here [our heads]. When they came and faced us here at the Etihad, I saw them: ‘Ah, these guys, they don’t want to beat us, they just want to draw, you know.’

“And that mentality, we wouldn’t do it the same way. We catch it and at the end if you give us one point we will win the last seven or eight games even though we know how tough it is. So I think [the difference] is in terms of mentality.”

Rodri’s eighth league goal of the campaign wrapped up a 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday and meant Arsenal – 2-1 victors over Everton – could not finish above them.

The Spaniard believes City’s mental strength has grown with every season and pinpointed last Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where they had never previously won, as an example of their toughness between the ears.

“We believed. But you [have to] believe you did it, and we know how tough it is to do it,” he said.

“We have to go out on all the pitches - the Tottenham game we had never won there so it’s not easy to implement this. But every season, the manager, the players, find a way to do it. Even myself, comparing my first season I came here to now, you grow a lot in this sense [mental strength].”

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