Arteta 'very emotional' facing former boss Guardiola in Premier League return

Goal.com

Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta says it is "very emotional" for him to come up against Pep Guardiola and Manchester City in the Gunners' first match back following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Spaniard spent three years at City as Guardiola's assistant before taking up the head coach role at his former team Arsenal in December.

The ex-midfielder was supposed to face his previous employers for the first time in March, but he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and the English top-flight was subsequently suspended.

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After waiting more than three months, Arteta has finally come up against Guardiola's reigning league champions and he admits it is a big deal for him.

"It's a very emotional game for me obviously but I am very excited. It's been a tough few months for everybody," he told  Sky Sports.

The Gunners' form had been improving in the build-up to the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, having won six and drawn three of their last 10 matches in all competitions.

But the 38-year-old feels believes it will be difficult for players to adapt to the new situation as they play their first game without fans in the stadium

"Everything, every protocol, is different, so we have to adapt and find the right motivation. Let's find out how it goes," Arteta said.

"There are a few things that have happened in the last few weeks so I have to pick the team that I think will do well."

Meanwhile, Guardiola was excited about coming up against Arteta and expressed his admiration for his colleague-turned-rival.

"Of course a little bit, we were rivals as football players and now as managers," he said.

"We were together for an incredible three and a half years. I learned a lot from him. He is an exceptional person and I wish him all the best.

"We want to win of course. The best players will win. I cannot play unfortunately and he [Arteta] cannot play either, fortunately!"

Arsenal are ninth in the English top-flight after 28 matches, five points behind the Europa League qualification spot - occupied by Manchester United - and five adrift of Chelsea, who are in the fourth and final Champions League place.

City, meanwhile, are in second and 25 points behind leaders Liverpool.

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