Pep Guardiola defends former assistant Mikel Arteta as pressure increases on Arsenal manager after 5-0 thrashing at Man City

Pep Guardiola defended under-pressure Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, expressing sympathy for his former assistant after his Man City side thrashed the Gunners 5-0.

Arsenal have zero points, zero point and sit rock bottom of the Premier League table following Saturday humiliating defeat, with calls for Arteta’s sacking increasing amongst fans.

Guardiola defended his former No.2 Arteta
Arsenal ace Xhaka was slated for his ‘mindless’ red card against Man City

In fact, visiting supporters were so fed up that some of them appeared to leave the Etihad before half-time.

Their humbling defeat was helped along by a 35th minute Granit Xhaka red card, which Arteta failed to react to until half time, with Arsenal legend Ian Wright calling the performance a ‘disasterclass’.

Arteta hit out at officials after the game, insisting City’s second goal should not have stood for a ‘punch’ on Calum Chambers – but the Spaniard would be kidding himself if he thinks that would have changed the manner of the defeat.

And City boss Guardiola decided to defend his former second in command post-match, putting the performance down to injuries.

Guardiola told talkSPORT: “Of course I have [sympathy].

“The back-five today who played, okay they are good players, but they are not the players they need with Tierney, Ben White and Gabriel and many, many players that he has. Thomas Partey is not there.

“In football, people want result, result, result. Sometimes, you have the squad – look at us, except for Phil and Kevin, all the other people are ready.

“It is easy for me.”

Arsenal’s £50million signing Ben White was not available for their game against City

Arsenal have spent the most of any Premier League side during the summer transfer window, forking out in the region of £130million for White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares.

And Guardiola believes a full strength Arsenal will be a different proposition, saying: “The players make our job good. The moment he has the full squad, everything is going well.

“I know him perfectly and know the quality he has as a person and as a manager.”

Arteta then attempted to explain Saturday’s defeat that leaves his side at the foot of the Premier League table after three games.

“At the start of the game, it was exactly what we planned to make it really uncomfortable for them,” the under-pressure Arsenal boss told talkSPORT.

Arteta’s tactics did not go to plan against the team he used to coach

“We were really bright and competitive and competed where we wanted.

“The first action, we didn’t stop the cross. You don’t control the runner in the box and you concede a goal. If you want to win here, it is impossible, it’s so basic and you cannot do it.

“After we conceded the second one really quick as well. It was a clear foul, a punch on Calum Chambers before they scored. I don’t know how it doesn’t get disallowed.

“Then we go to 10 men for 65 minutes and you know what is going to happen.”

Arsenal were humiliated at the Etihad

Arteta then moved on to Xhaka’s first-half red card, which as good as ended Arsenal’s afternoon.

“He certainly made it much more difficult,” added the Spaniard. “It was difficult enough.

“I don’t think he has the intention to do anything like it.

“He tries to stop before touching the ball and the referee makes a decision that he didn’t make the decision in our box, but he did it for them once more and the game is over.”

When questioned over his future, Arteta gave an honest answer.

“To talk about progress when you’ve lost 5-0 away from home, it is quite difficult,” he said.

“There are a lot of things that have changed and improved, but the only way to see that at the end is to get results on the pitch.

“I have to say thank you to the fans as we have 3,000 fans today and they gave unconditional support to the players.

“That’s the reaction of all the players in there, when you lose 5-0, clapping them. It’s not about them, they’ve been absolutely terrific.”

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