Mikel Arteta enjoys league and cup battles with mentor Pep Guardiola | Football news

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says fierce battles with Pep Guardiola will not change their friendship as both men battle for the Premier League title. Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant for three and a half years at Manchester City before taking charge of the Gunners in 2019. Arsenal have not won a league title in 19 years, but lead defending champions City by five points and have a game credit against Guardiola’s men. The two sides meet in the first of three meetings in the coming months in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday.

“I always hoped that would be the case one day and it is happening this season,” Arteta said on Wednesday as he took on Guardiola for the title.

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“That won’t change any friendship, the moments we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.

“We are both ready to win and defend our clubs in any way we can and it has always been that way from day one.

“I’d rather do it with someone else to be honest. I really want the best for him, and when you take on a challenge with someone like that, something comes in the way.”

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City’s superior strength in depth could prove decisive in the title race and Arteta is keen to bolster his options in midfield with Mohamed Elneny out injured.

Arsenal have already signed Belgian striker Leandro Trossard from Brighton and Jakub Kiwior, a highly regarded young Polish defender, in January.

West Ham’s Declan Rice is reportedly the main target of the Premier League leaders in midfield, but they will likely have to wait until the summer transfer window for a move from the England international.

“We ideally need a little more cover in midfield if we can,” said Arteta.

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“In this market it’s quite complicated to do that. The most important thing is that we get the performance and the time on the field that we need with the players we have available today and who are already very good.”

“If there’s something else available that can make us better, we’ll look into it.”

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