Pep Guardiola begins mind games with Mikel Arteta after Arsenal admission

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Pep Guardiola begins mind games with Mikel Arteta after Arsenal admission
Pep Guardiola begins mind games with Mikel Arteta after Arsenal admission

Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta may be friends, but that hasn't stopped the Manchester City chief from ramping up the mind games after Arsenal dropped points in the title race.

Few, if anybody, would have predicted that Arsenal would be in contention for their first Premier League title since 2004 at the start of the campaign, let alone that they would be ahead of the pack at the start of 2023. But intriguingly, it's Guardiola's former protege who now stands between the Spaniard and a fifth domestic crown in six years.

The Gunners started the week with an eight point cushion over City before they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by third placed Newcastle on Tuesday night. Although Manchester City can cut the gap at the summit of the table to five points with a result against an out of sorts Chelsea side on Thursday night, Guardiola has insisted that hunting down his old assistant will be easier said than done.

And the City chief has even claimed that Arteta and Arsenal could emulate their recent achievements by racking up a century of points to end City's domestic dominance.

“The way to reduce the gap is by playing good and winning games,” Guardiola said at a press conference prior to City's trip to Stamford Bridge. “But they [Arsenal] are going to do 100 or more points the way they have gone so far. If they continue this way, we will not catch them.

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“We have to be almost perfect, I would say, from here to the end of the season and hope they drop a little bit in their performance, because yesterday they were excellent. We will see what happens.”

Join the debate! Who do you think will win the title: Arsenal or Man City? Let us know here.

Pep Guardiola begins mind games with Mikel Arteta after Arsenal admissionMikel Arteta spent three years working alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City

While Arsenal have been in electric form this season, losing just once, it remains to be seen if Arteta's side have the strength in depth to compete with a City side who have been synonymous with success for the majority of Guardiola's tenure.

The Premier League champions are far from their best at the moment but still boast a seasoned squad who have showcased a relentless mentality: City have won four titles in five years; Arsenal have not won the Premier League crown in almost two decades and have won just one FA Cup during Arteta's reign.

Given that Arteta worked alongside Guardiola for three years before he was lured away from the Etihad to take the top job at his former club, he will be more than aware of how Guardiola operates and is unlikely to heed the City chief's words too much.

Only time will tell if Arteta can prevent his compatriot from achieving more success. He will take no notice of Guardiola's bold prediction - but he will know he already has his former mentor sweating.

Dan Marsh

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