Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed he does not have much respect for Arsenal’s off-field dealings.
City reportedly believe the Gunners are one of a number of clubs to have previously called on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) not to agree to any delay to their two-year European ban, which has since been overturned.
UEFA had accused City of breaking their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by overstating sponsorship revenue in their accounts and in the break-even information submitted between 2012 and 2016, as well as failing to co-operate with its investigation.
The decision by CAS to overturn City’s ban was met with criticism by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho.
Guardiola is also understood to be frustrated with Arsenal at the way they approached his former assistant Mikel Arteta before appointing him as head coach in December, although the City manager has no issue with his fellow Spaniard taking the job.
Reflecting on City’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal, Guardiola said: “The opponents always deserve my respect and credit, and Arsenal, they have it..
“I have all the respect for what Arsenal are on the pitch – not much off the pitch, but on the pitch a lot. So I congratulate them and good luck against Chelsea in the final.”
Pep ‘excited’ by Real clash
With City unable to alter their second-place finish in the Premier League, focus switches to the Champions League and next month’s clash with newly-crowned Spanish champions Real Madrid on August 7 in the delayed second leg of their last-16 tie, leading 2-1 from the first encounter in February.
City have played some exhilarating football at times this season but the Arsenal result highlighted some frailties Guardiola is determined to learn from.
“Part of the good work Arsenal have done, I give them a lot of credit for – what they did, how good they defended,” Guardiola said.
“We didn’t do it properly. We had enough chances to score goals and we didn’t do it. I just congratulate them, learn from this and prepare for Madrid. We move forward, it’s forgotten.
“Now we are incredibly excited and incredibly optimistic about the game against Madrid, for the players we have.
“We know if we play at a decent level, higher than we played against Arsenal, we’ll have our chance. If not, we’ll be out.”
Guardiola wants his side to use this week’s closing Premier League games against Watford and Norwich to rediscover their best.
“[Find] our game, come back who we are,” he said. “With and without the ball, we are good when we go full gas – when we are a team with no fear, when it doesn’t matter what happens and we play.
“That’s what we have to take from these two games. Watford and Norwich can beat us, but beat us being who we are.”