Pep Guardiola used to be Mikel Arteta’s mentor, but they are now competing for the same trophies.
Mikel Arteta is not enjoying battling Pep Guardiola for honours, describing the “challenge” he faces in taking on someone he considers a close friend.
Arteta spent three-and-a-half years as Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City before taking the manager’s job at Arsenal.
After finishing eighth, eighth and fifth in the Premier League in his first three seasons in charge at the Emirates Stadium, Arteta has only now put together a team capable of matching City.
Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand against Guardiola’s second team.
However, it is not easy for Arteta to see City suffer given his attachment to the former boss.
Ahead of the two teams’ FA Cup tie, their first meeting this season, Arteta said: “I’d rather do it with someone else to be fair.
“I want the best for him, really the best for him, and when you’re challenging like that, something in between will come.
“It’s a strange feeling. It is what it is and that’s our challenge.”
With City being the standard-bearers of English football, Arteta knew this day would come if he was going to turn Arsenal into rivals once again.
“I always hoped that one day it would happen, and this season it’s happening,” he said.
“Of course, that doesn’t change any of the friendships, the moments we had, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.
“We both want to win and defend our clubs in the best possible way. It’s always been that way from day one.”