Mikel Arteta says Pep Guardiola friendship will remain despite rivalry

‘I would prefer to do it with someone else’: Mikel Arteta admits it is a ‘strange feeling’ to compete against his former mentor Pep Guardiola, as Arsenal prepare to challenge the ‘best team in the world’ for FA Cup and Premier League honours

  • Mikel Arteta previously worked as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Man City
  • The Arsenal manager is now competing directly against Guardiola for honours
  • Friday’s FA Cup fourth round tie marks the first meeting of the rivals this season 

Mikel Arteta has claimed he would rather be competing for major honours with someone other than Pep Guardiola, after the two friends prepare to go head-to-head in both the FA Cup and Premier League this season.

Arteta said Friday’s fourth round FA Cup tie will tell him a lot about where his Arsenal side are, having repeated his claim that Manchester City are ‘the best football team in the world.

The Spaniard will be reunited on the touchline with Guardiola, who he supported as an assistant manager between 2016 to 2019, before leaving to become Arsenal boss.

Mikel Arteta, right, admitted it was strange to challenge his friend Pep Guardiola for honours

Arteta served as an assistant to Guardiola before moving on to become Arsenal boss in 2019

Arteta insisted their close relationship would not be impacted by their respective sides competing for major honours.   

‘I always hoped it would be the case one day and it is happening this season,’ Arteta said.

‘It will not change our friendship and how important he is in my life and in our profession. 

‘But we both want to win and defend our clubs in the best possible way.

‘I would prefer to do it with someone else. I want the best for him, but when you are challenging someone like this, something comes in-between. 

‘It is a strange feeling, but it is what it is.’

Arteta hopes to lead Arsenal to Premier League glory and wrestle the title away from Man City

The FA Cup match will be the first meeting between the clubs this season, with the top two Premier League yet to clash in the league.

Arteta insisted the outcome of Friday’s cup tie would have no bearing on Premier League matches between the teams in February and April.

‘They will be very different games so there is no comparison,’ Arteta said. 

‘The important thing is to play well and try to win. Winning gives you momentum, breeds confidence and helps you to prepare for the next match.

‘That will be our focus on Friday.’

Arteta has labelled Man City as the best team in the world prior to the FA Cup fourth round tie

Arteta claimed the FA Cup tie would tell him a lot about the progress of his Arsenal side

The Gunners restored their five-point lead over City in the Premier League with their late 3-2 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Despite the victory, Arteta has insisted Guardiola’s side remain the title favourites having triumphed in four of the past five seasons.

The Arsenal manager insisted Arsenal remained on a pathway to challenge City, warning his side they have not achieved anything despite their stunning first half of the Premier League season.

‘This league brings you challenges,’ Arteta said. ‘You have the best coaches, the best coach in the world, and you have to find ways to compete with them.  

‘We are in the pathway and have to understand we have not done anything yet. There are still a lot of things to improve.’

Arteta claimed the signing of Jakub Kiwior provides much needed defensive cover to Arsenal

Arsenal have been bolstered by the £21million signing of Jakub Kiwior from Spezia, with Arteta claiming the Poland defender will provide much needed cover.

Kiwior was Arsenal’s second signing of the window, following the £27 million arrival of Leandro Trossard from Brighton.

Arteta admitted his squad needs additional cover in midfield, amid concerns over Mohamed Elneny’s knee injury, but acknowledged it could be complicated to bring in further reinforcements this window.

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