Pep Guardiola says he did not inspire Mikel Arteta and lauded his former Manchester City No 2 for the job he is doing as Arsenal manager, feeling that the Gunners will be future Premier League title contenders.
Arsenal have not won the league since 2004 while City have won three of the last seven, and look likely to land the 2021 title after opening up a 10-point gap at the top of the Premier League after their 3-1 win at Everton on Wednesday.
That was their 17th straight win in all competitions while the Gunners, who won last season’s FA Cup under Arteta, have picked up only one victory in their last five following their 1-1 Europa League draw with Benfica.
Speaking ahead of City’s trip to the Emirates on Sunday, Guardiola heaped praise on his former assistant and felt that Arsenal could once again start challenging for titles in the “early future” under Arteta.
“I did not inspire him [Mikel Arteta]. What he knows he knows for himself,” Guardiola said on Friday. “I am not any influence. What he is doing, all credit to him and his backroom staff.
“All I can say is the last months show me that all managers need time and he is not an exception. What I see in the last two months every game Arsenal played is better than the opponent.
“On Sunday we will have an incredible performance. They have an exceptional build-up, they have quality and they have energy. They have [Bukayo] Saka, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and all the players with the quality in the middle.
“In the early future they will be real contenders to fight for the titles. Most of the time [when Arteta and I worked together] we took decisions together and I took decisions with the influence of Mikel.
“I don’t know if I influenced him – he has to answer this.”
Guardiola told his players not to look at City’s forthcoming schedule but to embrace the “beautiful challenge” after watching his side go 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
City have won their first 10 top-flight matches in 2021, the longest ever winning run by a team from the start of a calendar year in top-flight history.
Guardiola maintained that he will need to call upon all of his players during a hectic schedule in order to battle on multiple fronts.
“If we want to win titles, we’re going to need the entire squad,” Guardiola said. “What pleased me [against Everton] was the solidarity even from the guys who didn’t play.