When you are top of the league they have to undermine you for another reason – Pep Guardiola defends his former assistant Mikel Arteta following touchline antics criticism

Manchester city manager, Pep Guardiola has come out to defend his friend and protege, Mikel Arteta claiming people who criticize Mikel Arteta’s touchline manner derives from jealousy.

Arteta spent time learning management under Guardiola at Manchester City before he went to take over Arsenal.. The pair meet for the first time this season when Arsenal go to the Etihad Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night, January 27.

Arteta has been condemned by several pundits in recent weeks for his behaviour, noticeably picking up a yellow card during Sunday’s last-gasp victory over Manchester United.

But Guardiola also known for being emotional on the touchline has backed the Arsenal boss.

‘Absolutely,’ Guardiola said when asked if jealousy was a factor in criticism.

 ‘When you are top of the league they have to undermine you for another reason. And they are doing that right now. I know this situation quite well.

‘He wants to beat me and I want to beat him. I know how we both are and in defeat we are not the best friends in the world.

‘From my point of view I have a huge respect for him as a person, as a manager. That’s not going to change if we’re going to fight on the touchline. 

‘Sooner or later it’s going to happen I guess but when that is going to happen it’s not going to change the respect I have for him.’ 

Arteta sits five points clear of Guardiola in the Premier League title race with a game in hand as he attempts to deliver Arsenal’s first crown since 2004.

Guardiola also said that the 40-year-old would have been the perfect successor to him at City. 

‘I am pretty sure if I would have left before, he would be here,’ the Catalan added. 

‘And he would be the best, absolutely. But I extended the contract, I am sorry. And he didn’t wait, so it could not happen.

‘Everyone has dreams and I know he went to his club, the team he dreams of. He is a supporter of Arsenal – he played there and loves the club. When we scored a lot of goals here, always he jumped up and celebrated, except against one team.

‘Then I jumped and he was just sitting there. It was Arsenal and I said, “that guy likes Arsenal!” I am not the person to say, “stay you have to stay here, you have a contract.” You have to fly, life is too short.’ 

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