Every word Mikel Arteta said on Ilkay Gundogan, Man City, top four hopes and Pep Guardiola


How impressed have you been with City’s unbeaten run and is the title race over?

I think they are the best team in Europe at the moment. The way they are performing, the football they are playing and the consistency of the results take all that it an it makes them the best team. So we have a big but as well a very exciting challenge ahead of us on Sunday.

What are their main strengths this season, do they have any weaknesses?

What they have done is react to a difficult moment and a big team has to do that so when everyone doubting their ability to compete again and be the team that they are, they reacted in a a really convincing way, all united and doing what they do best – being very consistent and winning games very comfortably.

Weakness-wise, they have weaknesses like every team but at the moment teams have struggled a lot to find any of that because I think first of all defensively they have been really, really strong.

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Are the upcoming games against teams above you (Leicester and Spurs) a chance to close the gap to the top four?

Absolutely. That’s going to define our season. If we are able to close the gaps to them but it’s gonna create momentum for us if we can get closer to them. We know the margin for error is minimal with the season that we have had in previous months so we need to kick on.

You worked with Ilkay Gundogan at Manchester City. Has his recent form surprised even you?

Well I think now he’s playing a higher role in the team. He’s always had the ability to arrive in the box and has great timing and great qualities to finish the actions. Before he played a deeper role and he had the license to do that. He’s a tremendous player and he’s doing really, really well this season.

Could any team other than City put together this type of run without the likes of Aguero, De Bruyne etc.?

Well that doesn’t happen overnight. That’s been built over the last years. Recruiting really good, recruiting the players that can take the next challenge when someone tries to get in the twilight phase of their career. That evolution has been done in a really nice way so credit to everybody that makes the decision on there because they have all the time kept the vision of what were the immediate needs but what as well was needed for the future.

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How important was it to have Pep to talk to during that difficult time before Christmas, especially with the social media abuse you spoke about?

We’ve been in contact a lot since I’ve been here. In good moments, in bad moments, when he was having some difficult moments, now that he’s having some great moments, the relationship doesn’t change. Obviously it’s great to have some advice and some support at any moment in your career, because you need people as much as possible that have lived these situations. And then obviously the advice is much more concrete and useful.

Does that apply on and off the pitch?

Absolutely.





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