Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he respects Arsenal on the pitch – but he cannot say the same about how the Gunners conduct themselves off it.
A week after Manchester City learned their two-year European ban had been overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), tensions are still running high.
Some senior figures within the game are annoyed City have not been punished for Financial Fair Play regulation breaches, while the club are angry at the behaviour of some of their rivals.
Last week, Guardiola demanded an apology and told rival clubs to stop “whispering” about City behind their backs.
The Blues are understood to believe Arsenal were one of the chief instigators behind a collective approach to Cas by eight clubs in the Premier League – Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester, Wolves and Burnley – asking them not to agree to any delay in the European suspension pending City’s appeal.
As it turned out, the delay was not required because the case was decided before the end of the season.
But evidently, City have not forgotten and reflecting on his side’s FA Cup semi-final defeat by the Gunners on Saturday, Guardiola said: “Opponents always deserve my respect and credit. I have all the respect for what Arsenal are on the pitch, not much off the pitch – but on the pitch, a lot.”
City were irritated by Arsenal’s conduct earlier in the season when the Gunners approached Mikel Arteta to take the manager’s job following the dismissal of Unai Emery.
Arteta was on the City bench for a 3-0 win at Arsenal in December, after which two senior Gunners executives travelled north to meet the former midfielder at his house for talks.
City were frustrated that no-one from Arsenal had the courtesy to tell them what they were intending to do, even though they had no intention of standing in Arteta’s way.