Pep Guardiola has scoffed at the idea that his friendship with Mikel Arteta could be affected by Manchester City and Arsenal’s title fight.
The rivals for the Premier League title will face off in a big bout at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Arsenal have drawn their last three games, which means a two-point lead would be reduced to a two-point lead for City, who have two games to go against the Gunners.
Arteta left Guardiola’s coaching staff to join Arsenal in 2019, but the City boss has nothing but admiration for his close friend.
“Nothing changes,” Guardiola said when asked if his friendship with Arteta gave the match “an extra dimension.”
“Nothing has changed in how I think about him. We talk less, that’s fine, but there’s always been rivalry and there always will be.
“This is not the first time in the history of the sport. I was a player, I had a lot of friends in other teams, that’s how it is. You do everything possible to win, but in the end the personal relationship remains.
“I think the development of Arsenal after Mikel came to power is obvious. I am a coach, not a manager. I have a feeling that Mikel has changed the structure of the club. I made a lot of decisions, changed a lot of players with the support of the club management, that’s why there is success.”
While City are in brilliant form and Arsenal are faltering, Arteta sees no reason to be negative.
“[City] create this incredible form and see where we are still in the table, so that means we were also in incredible form and that’s why we are where we are,” the Arsenal boss said.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester City – Erling Haaland
Haaland has scored 32 Premier League goals for City this season, the most for a player in a 38-game campaign in the competition. Twenty of those goals were scored at the Etihad Stadium, the most home goals scored by a player in a season since 2007-08, when Cristiano Ronaldo (Old Trafford) and Fernando Torres (Anfield) each scored 21 each goal.
Arsenal – Gabriel Martinelli
Martinelli has scored 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches for Arsenal (eight goals, three assists). Overall, he has scored 15 Premier League goals this season, the most by a Brazilian player in a single season, alongside Roberto Firmino in 2017-18.
MATCH PREDICT: MANCHESTER CITY WIN
City have won eight of their last nine Premier League matches, including the last six in a row. They have won 17 of their last 19 league matches at home (D1 L1), although the last four defeats at the Etihad Stadium have come against London clubs (Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Brentford).
Arsenal have only scored three goals in their last 10 Premier League matches against City and have failed to score seven times. They have only failed to score in six of their previous 37 against the City in the competition.
Indeed, the Gunners have lost their last 11 Premier League games against Man City, their longest losing streak against a rival in league history.
WHOLESALE WIN PROBABILITY
Manchester City – 62%.
Arsenal – 15.3 percent
Draw – 22.7 percent