Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s FA Cup victory over Arsenal will be irrelevant by the time the Premier League clash takes place next month.
The City manager said his side were “very pleased” to have beaten the Gunners in the fourth round of the cup and won 1-0 thanks to a Nathan Ake strike in the second half.
He took the victory in isolation rather than as part of any grander scheme and was thrilled that City would follow up on their 4-0 third round win over Chelsea by beating another heavyweight opponent to reach 1 /8 finals.
City last won the FA Cup in 2018/19 when they thrashed Watford 6-0 in the final, Guardiola’s only triumph in the competition.
However, he has won four Premier League titles since arriving in Manchester in 2016 and is hoping a fifth could emerge this season, but so far City have been chasing Arsenal five points behind and also playing a game more than Gunners Mikel Arteta.
The teams will face off at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday 15 February and also play at the Etihad Stadium in April, and these two games could be key in determining where the trophy ends up.
Guardiola said his players were “incredibly happy” but added: “This is not the Premier League, this is a different competition. We are happy to be there after beating Chelsea and Arsenal in the first two matchdays.
“It will be a completely different day at Emirates. Mikel rarely spins in the Premier League.
“The FA Cup is an important competition and we are very happy, but they will forget about it when we are there.”
The question of rotation certainly carries weight given Arteta named several key players from his Premier League side on the bench ahead of Friday’s cup game, including captain Martin Odegaard, former City left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko and Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli .
“The influence of Oleks, Odegor…. we know things will be different with increased pressure,” Guardiola said, looking forward to the next meeting.
City have won 13 of their last 14 games against Arsenal in all competitions, including each of the last six, so they hope the trend will continue for the rest of this campaign.
Guardiola feels he benefited from the close-quarters encounter with Arsenal and was impressed by their personal marking, while he sees great strength in the substitutions his former assistant Arteta provided in the second half.
“Martinelli is an incredible weapon. Odegaard plays in his pockets,” Guardiola said. “It’s a really good team, otherwise they couldn’t be where they are. They are aggressive; they know exactly what they need to do.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we were able to beat them and get through to the next round. They saw what we can do. We’ve seen what they can do.”
There was one hit for City on a positive night when John Stones suffered a suspected hamstring injury that forced him off shortly before half-time, with Guardiola saying he suspected the defender was “not ready” from the opening minutes.