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HomeSportsArteta wants Arsenal to embrace massive moment against Guardiola's Manchester City

Arteta wants Arsenal to embrace massive moment against Guardiola’s Manchester City

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wants his team to enjoy the moment in Sunday’s Premier League clash against a Manchester City side he believes have pushed the level of the game globally and who have the world’s best coach in Pep Guardiola.

Arsenal, who face an anxious wait to see if Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhaes will be fit for the match, top the Premier League table with 10 games to go in a nail-biting title race on 64 points, while holders City are third on 63. Liverpool are second with 64.

A victory would end Arsenal’s nine-year winless drought at the Etihad and be a massive boost to their title hopes.

“We’ve done a lot already to be in the position that we are and now we have to embrace and enjoy the moment and go for it,” Arteta told reporters on Friday.

“(City) have raised the bar in this league, I think in football in general, to a level that hadn’t been seen before,” he added. “And that’s the beauty of the sport, that makes you better, that challenges you more and you have to keep up with that pace. And that’s what we are trying to do.”

The Gunners have kept pace and more in recent weeks, winning their last eight league games while scoring an astounding 33 goals.

Arteta was an assistant under Guardiola at City before taking the managerial reins at Arsenal, and the two Spaniards’ friendship goes back to their days as players. Sitting in opposing dugouts, however, has meant a change in their relationship.

“It has to change, (but) my admiration for him certainly not,” Arteta said of Guardiola. “My opinion is he is the best coach in the world by a mile and he’s one of the nicest people I have met in football.

“But our roles at the moment are where they are and it has to adapt to the situation. Probably I would prefer to (beat) somebody else that I don’t have those feelings (of friendship), but it is not a choice. We both want to win. We know each other very well and I will prepare the game to win it.”

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Arsenal were the form team in the league heading into the international break, and Arteta hopes they can quickly regain any lost momentum.

“You cannot (maintain momentum), that momentum is gone,” he said. “Now everybody’s back, everybody’s so positive about what is coming and looking forward to it.

“I was watching everybody walk in the building and I love the energy,” he added. “I loved their smiles, they were glad to be back. They were actually wanting to train yesterday.”

Arteta revealed forwards Saka and Martinelli and centre back Gabriel have not trained since the team returned from the break, but that there is a chance they could play.

Saka withdrew from the England squad with a hamstring injury, while Martinelli (foot injury) and Gabriel (Achilles) were not involved with Brazil.

“There is a chance,” Arteta said. “They haven’t trained but tomorrow we have another session.”

Arteta supported Ben White’s decision to make himself unavailable for England selection when asked about the criticism the defender has received.

“I think he has received a lot of love and just have to see what his team mates and everybody in football thinks of him, people have respected his decision and hopefully one day he is prepared to represent his country in the best possible way,” said Arteta. “But that’s completely up to him.”

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