Pep Guardiola claimed working with Mikel Arteta made him a “better manager” ahead of Friday’s FA Cup reunion.
Guardiola’s Manchester City side host Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in the fourth round, the first clash this season between the current top two sides in the Premier League.
Arteta will return to Manchester for the game, having spent three years working as Guardiola’s assistant after he ended his playing career in 2016.
The Gunners boss has spoken of the impact of his former mentor and how their partnership helped to craft him into a manager, having left City for Arsenal in 2019.
It was not just a one-way street though, with Guardiola revealing he benefitted similarly from working alongside his Spanish compatriot.
“He said he would like to work together and that he can help because he knows the Premier League perfectly, he knows all the managers,” Guardiola told a press conference.
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“I remember the first game, we played against Sunderland and against David Moyes. He said he knows him well from Everton, he does this, he does that, all the strategies and the pieces.
“After 15 minutes, half an hour, I knew he was the man, the guy to help me. If you can have someone who can anticipate and has the knowledge of what it is like to go to Stoke City away, to go to every stadium, a guy who has been there for many years.
“So, we started to work together. I don’t know what my part on him was, but his influence on me was great, it was massive and so important to be a better manager.”
Even in his years with City, Guardiola knew Arteta retained an allegiance to Arsenal, where he was a former club captain. Guardiola revealed Arteta never used to celebrate goals against the side he skippered in the final two years of his playing career.
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“I know he went to his team, his club, the team he dreamed of. He was a supporter, he played there, he was captain there, he loves that club,” Guardiola said.
“I remember when we worked together here, we’d score a lot of goals and he was always jumping and celebrating, except against one team. Against this team, we’d score a goal, I’d jump, I’d turn and he was sitting there – it was Arsenal.”
Arteta has made Arsenal the team to beat in this season’s Premier League, with the Gunners five points clear of City, also boasting a game in hand.
Guardiola said Arteta’s move to Arsenal made complete sense.
“It’s like me, if I was training here as assistant coach and Barcelona called me, I would go,” Guardiola said. “It is my club. I’m not the person to say he must stay here with me, he has a contract. People have to fly when they believe it’s best for them.
“For players, I’ve said it many times, if they’re not happy they have to leave. Life is too short, especially for players, to spend time in a place that you don’t like, that’s treated you bad or whatever. That’s what it is.“