Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has expressed his opinion on the prospect of locking horns with Pep Guardiola during his team's FA Cup encounter against Manchester City on Friday (January 27).
The Gunners, who are currently atop the Premier League standings, are set to face second-placed Manchester City for the first time this season during their upcoming trip to the Etihad.
Earlier this month, Arsenal cruised past Oxford United 3-0 in their FA Cup third-round tie at the Kassam Stadium. Manchester City, on the other hand, thumped Chelsea 4-0 in front of their home crowd in their respective domestic cup clash.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Arteta was asked whether his relationship with Guardiola has undergone a change due to the ongoing battle for the Premier League title. He responded:
"I always hoped that would be the case one day and it's happening this season. That's not going to change any friendship, the moments that we have had, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession. We're both willing to win and defend our clubs in any way and that's always been the case."
When queried whether Friday's FA Cup clash against Manchester City will help define Arsenal's ongoing campaign, Arteta replied:
"It'll define the season obviously. Because if we are able to win on Friday, then we will go to the next round and they won't. If they beat us, then it will be the other way around. FA Cup is a competition that is very important to us, very attached to our club and history and will define a crucial moment, that is for sure."
While Arsenal have lifted the FA Cup a record 14 times, City have emerged triumphant in the competition six times so far.
Mikel Arteta sheds light on Premier League rivalry between Arsenal-Manchester City
When asked whether Arsenal are the favorites ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League title race, Mikel Arteta responded:
"I don't know. The Premier League brings you incredible challenges, the best coaches in the world and to be at that level, you have to immerse yourself, you have to find other ways to try to compete with them. And that is where opportunities come as well. And we are on that pathway... understanding that we have not done anything yet and there are still a lot of things to improve."
Both teams are yet to take on each other in the Premier League this season. While the Gunners will host Pep Guardiola's side on February 15, the reigning champions will host the league leaders on April 26.
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