Pep Guardiola blasts Arsenal: ‘I have respect for them on the pitch, but not off it’

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Make no mistake about it, Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Arsenal would have hurt Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. A lot.

City didn’t perform to their usual high standards and subsequently failed to reach the final after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored either side of half-time.

Guardiola had been outwitted by his former assistant, Mikel Arteta, who Arsenal appointed as their head coach back in December.

Although the Premier League title race is also now over, City will be determined to get back to winning ways against Watford on Tuesday night.

It’s imperative that City, who are desperate to become champions of Europe for the first time in their history, head into their Champions League Round of 16 second-leg clash against Real Madrid on August 7 in top form.

Ahead of the Watford game, Guardiola took a surprise and unprompted swipe at Arsenal in his pre-match press conference.

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The revered Catalan coach said that while he respects the Gunners on the pitch, he doesn’t have the same level of respect for the north London outfit off it.

“We didn’t play the first half against Arsenal like the second, that was the only regret. We wanted to play 90 minutes like the second half,” Guardiola was quoted saying by Goal.com.

“But, after we were beaten, we shake hands. The opponents always deserve my respect and credit. And Arsenal, I have all the respect for what they are on the pitch, not much off the pitch – but on the pitch, a lot. Congratulations to them and good luck in the final.”

So, why would Guardiola feel this way towards Arsenal?

He failed to elaborate on the reasons why but Goal point out that Arsenal were reportedly part of a group of Premier League clubs that wrote to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) asking them to deny any attempt from Man City to delay a two-year Champions League ban.

Furthermore, it was recently reported by the Daily Mail that City believe Arsenal were the driving force behind the ‘Hateful Eight’s’ revolt against City.

Guardiola was apparently furious with Arsenal, while one source from City told the newspaper: “If they spent as much time sorting their own house out instead of having a go at us they might not be 10th.”

The Sun, meanwhile, add that City are unhappy at how Arsenal lured Arteta at the end of 2019.

The Spaniard signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Gunners after deciding to leave City midway through the campaign.

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