Manchester City v Arsenal: Mikel Arteta would ‘prefer’ not to be fighting Pep Guardiola for title

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he would “prefer” not to challenge Pep Guardiola for the Premier League title.

The two Spaniards worked together at Manchester City, where Arteta gave up his role as Guardiola’s assistant in 2019 to become Arsenal manager.

The Gunners currently top the table, five points above defending champions City with a game in hand, as they chase a first title since 2004 when they went through the season undefeated.

“It’s a strange feeling,” Arteta said.

As part of City’s coaching staff, Arteta won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two EFL Cups.

“I really want the best for him, and when you take on a challenge with someone like that, something comes in between,” he added.

Despite going up against his friend, Arteta has enjoyed the way Arsenal are now battling City for trophies.

“I’ve always hoped that would be the case one day and it’s happening this season,” said the former Gunners midfielder, 40.

“That won’t change any friendship, the moments we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.

“We are both ready to win and defend our clubs in any way we can and it has always been that way from day one.

“I’d rather do it with someone else to be honest.”

Arsenal will visit City in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday – the first of three matches between the sides this season, with their Premier League encounters scheduled for February 15 and April 26.

Arteta led the Gunners to a record 14th FA Cup success in his first season in charge in 2019-20.

And he said the draw at the Etihad could be a defining game for both clubs this season.

“It is a match that is very important to us, very attached to our club and history and that will define a moment, that’s for sure,” added Arteta.

Arsenal signed Belgian striker Leandro Trossard from Brighton and Polish defender Jakub Kiwior from Spezia Calcio during the January transfer window.

Arteta said they could also sign another midfielder this month as Mohamed Elneny has been ruled out indefinitely with a knee injury.

“We ideally need a little more cover in midfield if we can,” he added. “In this market it’s quite complicated to do that.

“The most important thing is that we get the performance and the time on the pitch that we need, with the players we have at our disposal who are already very good.”

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