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Title race won’t affect my friendship with Guardiola, says Arteta

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Mikel Arteta served as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Man City from 2016 to 2019 before Arsenal appointed him as manager

Arsenal and Manchester City are in a close battle for the Premier League title this season but the north London club’s manager, Mikel Arteta, said that will not affect his friendship with his counterpart Pep Guardiola.

Former midfielder Arteta served as assistant to Guardiola at City from 2016 to 2019 before Arsenal appointed him as manager following the exit of Unai Emery.
Arteta’s side sit top of the league standings with 50 points after 19 games, five points above second-placed City who have played a game more. The teams will face off at the Etihad Stadium in tonight’s fourth-round FA Cup clash.

Asked about how he felt about going head-to-head with Guardiola in the league and FA Cup, Arteta told reporters: “I always hoped this would be the case one day and it is happening this season.
“Obviously that is not going to change any friendship, how important he is in my life and how important he is to my profession.
“We both want to win and defend our clubs the best possible way. That has always been the case since day one.”

Arteta, who guided Arsenal to the FA Cup in 2020, said a victory on Friday would give his team momentum and boost their confidence.
“In some ways it will define our season, yes, because if we are able to win on Friday we will go into the next round and they won’t,” Arteta added.
“It is a very important competition for us and winning will define this moment, for sure, as it will give us a chance to try to go on and win this trophy.
“This is a big test against, in my opinion, the best football team in the world. I am looking forward to it. It will tell us a lot about where we are.”

Guardiola on Thursday said he was well aware of Arteta’s quality long before he led Arsenal to the top of the Premier League, lauding the north London team for keeping faith in his former assistant.

“I don’t know my impact on him but his influence on me was so important to become a better manager,” Guardiola told reporters. “I knew it from when he was here (at City), his ability.
“The biggest compliment for Arsenal as well, because in the bad moments they trusted him and kept him. To do this, they had to support him, that’s why you need time and investment. The results are there.

“Everyone has dreams. I know he went to his club, where he is a supporter, he was a captain there. He loves the club. I remember here, when we scored goals he would jump a lot except against one team. It was Arsenal. I said that guy likes Arsenal.”

Guardiola also dismissed any notion of regret at letting forward Gabriel Jesus and defender Oleksandr Zinchenko move to Arsenal from City in the close season.
The pair have featured frequently for Arsenal this season, and have both made at least 15 appearances in all competitions despite suffering from injuries.

“Oleks (Zinchenko) and Gabriel have been amazing for us,” Guardiola said. “We respect them as people and football players. We want to beat them but when they have success, we are more than delighted.”

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