Man City boss Pep Guardiola believes Mikel Arteta has turned Arsenal into Premier League title contenders.
Arteta left his role as Guardiola’s assistant in December 2019 to steady the ship at the Emirates, and he has since overseen an FA Cup triumph and a solid start to the 2020/21 campaign, despite defeats to Liverpool and his former club on Saturday evening.
A sole Raheem Sterling strike was enough for the Cityzens to edge the Gunners, but the scoreline was a stark contrast to the heavy defeats the north Londoners have suffered against top six opposition in recent years.
Guardiola recognised that progress after the 1-0 victory, going as far to say that his apprentice had already made Arsenal challengers in the Premier League.
“He has everything to be a contender, to win the Premier League,” he said via football.london, before acknowledging just what a feat that is by continuing: “That hasn’t happened in a long time at Arsenal.”
Although that could be perceived as a jibe given just how long Arsenal have been off the pace in the title race year on year, it is also high praise from the serial-winning Spaniard.
The former Barcelona boss believes Arteta’s familiarity with the City side would have helped tactically, adding: “He knows our players. I don’t know his players. I don’t know their qualities, their weak points.
“We can have ideas but the game belongs to the players. We suffered in the last 10 minutes of the first half, in the second half we couldn’t make the build-up because we are not ready.”
Arteta has already gotten the better of his former colleague on the big stage, defeating City 2-0 in last season’s FA Cup semi-finals. The Manchester club had one each of the seven meetings prior to that.
Arsenal fans will be desperately hoping that whatever Guardiola sees in their side is something tangible, and that their solid form is not just a flash in the pan.