Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has taken aim at Arsenal and admits he has little respect for the north London side ‘off the pitch’.
Guardiola saw his side suffer a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the semi-finals of the FA Cup last weekend, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice for the Gunners to eliminate the holders and book a final meeting with Chelsea.
The Spaniard congratulated Arsenal on their progress to the final but then aimed a jibe in the direction of Mikel Arteta’s club, insisting he respects the Gunners on the pitch but ‘not much off the pitch’.
“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 said at his pre-match press conference ahead of his sides away clash with Watford.
“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.”
Guardiola refused to elaborate on his view but the BBC are reporting the City manager’s jibe centred around the club’s appeal against a two-season ban from European football, with Arsenal reportedly amongst the chief instigators behind a request from eight Premier League sides not to allow a delay to the ban pending appeal.
City were initially banned from competing in the Champions League for two seasons after being found guilty of breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, though the club successfully overturned the decision after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and will take their place amongst Europe’s elite next season.
Guardiola last week demanded an apology from rival clubs after his side were freed to play in continental competition, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Wolves, Leicester and Burnley the other clubs to have joined Arsenal in approaching the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold the sanctions pending appeal.
There is also believed to be frustration on Guardiola’s part about how the Gunners approached their former assistant coach Arteta without City’s consent.