Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has taken a jibe at Arsenal – by claiming he only respect Arsenal on the pitch but not off it.
Guardiola’s anger with Arsenal seems to be connected with the prominent role they played in the group of eight Premier League clubs who ganged up on City during their appeal against their two-year Champions league ban.
The group wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), to try to ensure any City attempt to delay their two-year ban – while their appeal was ongoing – was dismissed.
City had their two-year ban overturned by CAS, but it seems Guardiola and the club’s hierarchy are still seething at the conduct of their domestic rivals, in particular Arsenal.
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And while Guardiola said he had respect for the way his former City assistant Mikel Arteta orchestrated the FA Cup win at the weekend, he was withering with his view of Arsenal off the pitch.
“The opponents always deserve my respect and credit,” said Guardiola.
“And Arsenal, I have all the respect for what they are on the pitch – not much off the pitch – but on the pitch, a lot.
“So congratulations to them and good luck in the final.”
In the meantime, City will focus on their Champions League second-leg against Real Madrid.
Guardiola will give his players Monday and Tuesday off, but has told them it is “full gas” from then on until they host Real at the Etihad on August 7.
“We’ll have two days after Watford, but after that we’ll make two weeks worth of training sessions,” said Guardiola.
“Our game, who we are, with and without the ball, we’re good when we go full gas, with no fear.
“We’re going to have a specific way to play against Real Madrid. We’re going to try to maintain our rhythm, because we have to remember who Madrid are.
“We’ll see the games they’ve played since lockdown. They’ll have no Sergio Ramos [suspended], so we’ll see the games without him.
“It’s a final and we have to prepare properly. We’re going to train the specific way to play one game, sometimes you have global concepts, but now we have to be more specific. We’ll be specific against Madrid.”
Guardiola added: “Against Madrid we have to play a good game. On Saturday, it wasn’t good enough, but it’s forgotten.
“We’re excited and optimistic against Madrid. If we play at a decent level, we’ll have a chance. If not, we’ll be out.”
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