Rodri says Manchester City demonstrated their “champions’ personality” as they snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over 10-man Arsenal.
The Premier League leaders left it at the Emirates, the Spain international striking in the third minute of stoppage time to send Pep Guardiola’s side 11 points clear at the summit of the table.
The contest had appeared to be heading for a stalemate after Riyad Mahrez equalised from the penalty spot to cancel out Bukayo Saka’s first-half effort.
Despite dominating possession (70.9 per cent), City were far from their best, registering just two shots on target from 15 attempts.
Nevertheless, Rodri believes he and his team-mates reaped the rewards for their persistence, while he also paid tribute to Arsenal’s display in the absence of boss Mikel Arteta following his positive COVID-19 test.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 1, 2022
“This kind of game, you always have two or three in a season,” he told BT Sport.
“They’re an unbelievable team; they show why they’re in that position. The way they grow with Mikel is huge, massive.
“They did a good game but fortunately, we saw our champions’ personality. I’ve learned from previous years you have to push always, no matter what happens.
“We were 1-0 down in the break. Suddenly, things change. We didn’t do a great game, but we pushed; never dropped, and always thought it was possible.”
Arsenal were on a five-match winning streak at the Emirates, keeping a clean sheet in each of their four most recent outings on home soil.
The Gunners were unlucky not to quickly retake the lead after Mahrez’s equaliser, with Nathan Ake just about clearing off the line following a mix-up between Aymeric Laporte and Ederson, before Gabriel Magalhaes was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
And City boss Guardiola acknowledged that those fine margins proved crucial for his side, who he felt lacked energy during their third match in the space of six days.
“They [Arsenal] were better,” he said. “We faced a team who have struggled to be in top four and start the season at the bottom. Now, they are in the top four.
“They had six or seven days since their last game at Norwich; we had three days since Brentford.
“We didn’t have energy. In the second half, one minute changed with the penalty, one minute the [near] own goal and the sending off.
“Sometimes, the coin falls on your side, sometimes the other side. We know how much it means to win at the Emirates at the moment and the good team they are.”