Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta confirmed, on Wednesday, that the intense competition for the Premier League title with Manchester City this season will not affect his friendship with City coach Pep Guardiola.
Arteta, a former midfielder, worked as an assistant to Guardiola at City between 2016 and 2019 before taking over at Arsenal as coach, succeeding Unai Emery.
Arsenal lead the standings with 50 points from 19 games, five points ahead of second-placed City, who have played 20 games. The two teams face off at Al-Ittihad Stadium in the fourth round of the Federation Cup on Friday.
And when asked about his feeling about competing with Guardiola in the League and the Confederation Cup, Arteta told reporters, “I always hoped that this would happen one day and it happened this season. Of course it will not change the friendship relationship, and how important he (Guardiola) is in my life and his importance in my profession.”
He added, “We both want to win and defend the interests of our club to the fullest. It has always been like this from the beginning.”
And Arteta, who led Arsenal to win the FA Cup in the 2019-2020 season, considered that winning the Friday match would give his team a great moral boost and said, “In a way, it will determine our season … Yes, because if we win on Friday, we will advance to the next round unlike them.”
He added, “It is a very important tournament for us and winning will definitely define this moment, and it will also give us an opportunity to try to move forward and win the title.”
“It’s a big test against the best team in the world in my opinion. I’m looking forward to it. It will tell us a lot about our level.”