Pep Guardiola has been speaking ahead of the huge Premier League top of the table clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night - topics discussed by the City football trainer included his relationship with Mikel Arteta, how significant the match is, what Erling Haaland is like off the pitch, and thoughts on City not being physical enough.
Looking forward to the game?
"Really good to be here. It's a really important game because we can get points and they focus on what they have to do. We played two times this season and in the past as well. They have been really tight game and really difficult."
"It's really important. Not decisive. A lot of tough games for both sides but we can't deny how important it is."
What do Arsenal control well?
"Everything. When you play against these type of teams they control everything. Arsenal, back when Arsene Wenger was managing, always have incredible details and care with the ball, the players they select to play are of the biggest qualities and skills and I think Mikel bring a different dimension. They are so aggressive, they can go to Anfield against the team who has been the best in transitions in recent years and they were better. In the two games we played this season we felt it and you have to challenge them on those terms. The quality they have in the build-up, on the second balls, it's difficult."
Regret selling Zinchenko and Jesus?
"The club made the decisions they believe they needed to take. The three parties have agreed. It's not just about one part. Everyone agreed. The players have agreed, the club wanted to sell and the club wanted to buy. It's more than just one person. They are happy, we are happy. At the end we have no complaints about what Gabriel and Oleks have done for this club."
What's Haaland like off the pitch?
"I've said many times: exceptional. We have been very impressed with how he's behaved, his mood, how he lives his life and his love for football. It's exceptional."
How can Arteta stop Haaland?
"I don't know, I didn't speak to him. From what he has shown it is difficult to stop him. We played against him at Dortmund, try and have 70% or 80% ball possession. It's going to be a lot of transitions, they plan to play an aggressive game, man-to-man around the pitch."
Relationship with Mikel Arteta:
"Nothing has changed. What I think about him. He lives in London, I live here so we speak less, we're rivals right now, that happens but nothing has changed. It's not the first time in sport history. I was a football player I had friends in other teams, you want t win but in the end the relationship remains."
How do City dominate against Arsenal?
"When a team decides to be aggressive there is always spaces. It will not be a game when one team has 65/70% possession tomorrow. It is not going to happen."
More general on Arteta and Arsenal:
"I think the development of the club since Mikel took over it's obvious. When you talk about the word: manager, I'm a trainer, football trainer, not a manager. I handle what happens [with how we play]. But I have the feeling Mikel changed there attitude of the club. Support from the hierarchy of the club and that's why the success is there."
"It used to be a top six [in the Premier League] but now it's going to be a top eight competing for the top because Newcastle are there now."
Imperative City are perfect?
"Perfection doesn't exist in football. You can not be perfect and win the game. We know what happened with Bayern Munich and what will happen in the future, your standard has to be so, so high because teams demand you to be really good. We will try to impose our game."
Don't tell Pep the team wasn't physical:
"I never believe about the training conditions. People say when we lose the game the first argument is the physicality is not good. That is bullshit. My team arrive at the end of the season knowing if they lose games it will be over. That's why in October, November you can't have that feeling. When we got 100 points we started everything as a final, when we start seasons after back-to-back titles they don't feel like finals. But now I get that feeling cause it's really really close. To arrive at this point in the league to have the chances in the hands - but they have the chance too, the destiny will be in their hands if they win, but if we win: destiny will be in our hands in the seven games left we have."
Written by: @colgeogcra
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