Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta after the match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, June 2020.

Everything Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta have said about one another

There will be no lack of respect between Pep Guardiola and his old friend and assistant Mikel Arteta when Manchester City visit Arsenal for their crunch Premier League clash. 

The pair’s relationship stretches back over two decades, when Guardiola was winding down his playing career at boyhood club Barcelona and Arteta was following in his footsteps and emerging through the youth set-up, before the duo reunited as manager and assistant manager at Manchester City.

Now the pair are on a collision course; Arteta’s Arsenal side have emerged as an outstanding candidate to take City’s Premier League crown and the top two sides in England face each other in a huge encounter at the Emirates.

So we’ve collected together everything Guardiol and Arteta have said about each other since they worked together as manager and assistant.

September 2019

“He’s helped me a lot,” Guardiola told The Times in September 2019, speaking about his assistant at the time.

“From day one, so not just the last two seasons, from day one. He has an incredible work ethic, and he has a special talent to analyse what happens, and to find the solutions.

“We talk a lot about what he believes and feels and so on. He helped me a lot, especially in the first year. He knew the Premier League – like for example in games against Stoke or whatever.

“He can tell me about the players we will face better than myself, because he played against them and was in the Premier League for 10 or 11 years. That’s a long time.

“He’s so happy when we win but suffers when we don’t and that is why he tries to find a solution. He’s an incredible human being, with incredible values about what it means in the locker room to be together, and he is already an incredible manager and he’ll have incredible success in his future.

“We see the football in really quite a close way.”

June 2020

Guardiola has kept up the same respectful and flattering tone since Arteta left to succeed Unai Emery at Arsenal and was looking forward to their first meeting as opposition managers in June 2020.

“I’m so excited to see him, one of the nicest people I ever met. It was a joy for me and for all of us to work with him,” he said pre-match.

“The feeling I have is he’s happy there and doing an incredible job. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

Arteta said: “Well, he [Guardiola] was an influence for me since I was 15 years old and we met at Barcelona, both as players and in my coaching career and my personal life, he has an enormous influence.

“If I have to talk about the person he is, his values, the way he has treated me and how he deals with the players and the staff around him, it’s phenomenal.

“As a coach, I have learned so much from him, we have spent some amazing moments together, some difficult ones as well, but the experience next to him has been incredible.”

July 2020

“They have something special already, they have a team spirit Mikel has created,” Guardiola said after Arsenal’s 2-0 victory in the FA Cup semi-final.

“I see from the side how they celebrate goals, how they fight for every ball. They have begun to create something special for the club. We approach Arsenal like we do the other ones.

“Arsenal were one of the elite clubs in English football for the last 20, 30 years. I am pretty sure he is the right person to take them back to the position they were.

“When the club supports him there is no better person to do the job than Mikel. I have the feeling he is creating something unique. If he can be supported by the club with investment, get the players they need, they can be contenders for the next years.”

February 2021

Arsenal struggled throughout the 2020-21 season but Guardiola publically backed Arteta before their Premier League encounter 23 months ago.

“All I can say is the last months show me that all managers need time and he is not an exception,” the City boss said. “What I see in the last two months every game Arsenal played is better than the opponent.


“In the early future they will be real contenders to fight for the titles.

“Mikel [Arteta] knows everything. He’s so good. It’s not because he’s my friend. I know how he lives, I know what he plans, I know how he works. He’s so clever.

“I learn a lot from watching his teams and today I learned something that I can use in the future. He knows everything about football.”

August 2021

After administering a 5-0 hammering to his former assistant, Guardiola once again supported an under-pressure Arteta in the midst of some fierce questioning.

“Of course I have [sympathy],” the Catalan said.

“The back-five today who played, okay they are good players, but they are not the players they need with Tierney, Ben White and Gabriel and many, many players that he has. Thomas Partey is not there.

“In football, people want result, result, result. Sometimes, you have the squad – look at us, except for Phil and Kevin, all the other people are ready. It is easy for me.”

“The players make our job good. The moment he has the full squad, everything is going well.

“I know him perfectly and know the quality he has as a person and as a manager.”

Mikel Arteta during the Premier League match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, December 2019.

READ: Where are they now? The Arsenal XI from Mikel Arteta’s first game as boss in 2019

October 2022

Arsenal were flying under Arteta last October, racing ahead of the pack en route to the Premier League summit.

Pundits attributed their rise to the signing of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from City, but Guardiola was quick to pinpoint Arteta as the main reason behind Arsenal’s rise.

“I’d like to say a lot [of City influence at the Emirates] but I’d lie to you,” he said. “Mikel and I worked together for 3 years.

“He was taught since he was born. Maybe I learned more off him than he did off me when we worked together.

“Arsenal have the work ethic, the talent, the support. In the bad moment in the beginning, Mikel had the support in the decisions unconditionally.

“People see how he works every day, the commitment. He’s patient, all the managers want time to build something. Arsenal gave it to him, and the rest is the position they have.”

January 2023 Pt. I

When asked why he chose to work with Arteta, Guardiola explained to the Manchester Evening News: “I knew him a little bit. We make conversations. He said he’d like to work together, he can help because he knows the Premier League and the managers.

“The first game against David Moyes, he said I know him well from Everton. After 15 minutes, half an hour, I said this is the guy to anticipate.

“You know sooner or later, but to anticipate the knowledge to go to Stoke away, or every stadium. A guy many years here. I don’t know my part on him but his influence on me was so important to become a better manager.

When asked if he ever feared for Arteta’s future, Guardiola added: “No, I know how he works, how he seduces the board, hierarchy, players.

“It’s tough, sporting directors see the dressing room, how they solve problems and behave in bad moments. It’s not easy. In big clubs, you need results immediately.

“To be success with Arsenal, to come back from the position in the past, 90’s, it’s not winning one title, it’s to come back for the way they want to behave.

“It needs time. Think how big the squad, players come in. They are active again. It doesn’t come from one day, sometimes you need more time than you expect.

January 2023 Pt. II

“I always hoped that was going to be the case one day and it’s happening this season,” Arteta said when asked about the prospect of competing with City for titles.

“That’s not going to change any friendship, the moments that we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.

“We’re both willing to win and defend our clubs in any way and that’s always been the case since day one. I would prefer to do it with someone else to be fair.”

Questioned whether Arteta would be a good candidate to succeed him at City, Guardiola said: “I’m pretty sure if I leave before he would be here, he’d be the best absolutely. But I extend the contract, sorry, and he went.”

And Guardiola said that he knew Arsenal had a place in Arteta’s heart when he did not celebrate the goals City scored against the club he supported.

He explained: “Everyone has dreams and I know he went to his club, the team he dreams of. He is a supporter of Arsenal, from the fact he played there and loves the club.

“When we score a lot of goals here, always he jump up and celebrate, except against one team, then I jump and he was just sitting there.

“It was Arsenal and I say: ‘That guy likes Arsenal.’ I am not the person to stay you have to stay here, you have a contract. You have to fly. Life is too short.”

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