Guardiola, Arteta react to scoreless Man City vs Arsenal scrap

Pep Guardiola has a lot of respect for his longtime assistant Mikel Arteta, and neither man is going to say anything against the other in the media despite the Premier League title rivalry currently ongoing between their Arsenal and Manchester City sides (and current leaders Liverpool).

So it was predictable that the words would sound similar after Sunday’s scoreless draw, though the faces of both Guardiola and Arteta betrayed who felt better about the split at the Etihad Stadium. Arteta couldn’t stop smiles from cutting through his demeanor, while Guardiola looked bitter at best.

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Arteta’s Gunners only had 28% of the ball and fouled City 20 times compared to nine fouls committed by the hosts. It rarely looked like Arsenal had any adventurous plans to follow up on promises to go for the win, and Arteta more or less explained why it was so hard for Arsenal when he was asked if his familiarity with Guardiola helped deliver such a fierce physical affair.

“You have adapt a lot of times especially when you don’t have the ball,” Arteta said, his smile betraying just how fine he was with the point. “It is like that with every manager. The problem here is you’re facing the best manager in the world, so it’s much more difficult.”

Mikel Arteta reaction — ‘A big step’ for Arsenal

“When you don’t win you’re never happy but I think we have made a big step,. We have come across in a very different way (from last season). We have played some parts of the game in an exceptional way and other parts where we can do better especially with a goal. We need composure and patience to play more.

“The commitment of all the players and the discipline in all the defensive parts. We tried to win the ball and won it a lot. We were really patient, not rush, and we defended well. I think it’s 2021 the last time they were (shutout at home). …. You have to have those performances, especially away to get something out of the game here.”

“It’s very difficult because they have so many defending structures. They move players inside the base from different places. We have to maintain the principles to still have the chance to put them under pressure. When you are not, you are low and you have to be disciplined.”

Pep Guardiola reaction — Arsenal was physical; Ake, Stones, Walker injury updates

If there were hints of smiles on Pep Guardiola’s face, they seemed only to be side effects of smirks.

“We’ll take the point,” Guardiola said. “We didn’t create much. They didn’t create much. The defense was so compact. They are really good with the physicality they have. When Rico came in, we were in that side. We had one or two chances in transition and lost one or two goals. We are who we are.”

Guardiola felt the game was like the 1-0 affair away to Arsenal earlier this season.

“The last game in the Emirates was quite similar,” he said. “We tried to create even more but it’s not easy. Good players, defending the way they play. They make good high presses. They are compact. … It works for them. They are going in the Champions League. They are able to play, especially with the keeper. When they decide to play more direct, they are good and it’s part of the game.

Guardiola said that the injury that forced Nathan Ake off the pitch will not be a short absence, and that it’s similar to the injury that is keeping Kyle Walker out of the lineup. The Man City boss said John Stones will be “back soon.”

Walker was injured in England’s 1-0 loss to Brazil on March 23, missing the March 26 friendly versus Belgium as well as the Arsenal match. Stones was injured in England’s game against Belgium.

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