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Pep praises Arteta ahead of Emirates return

INSIDE TRACK: Pep has praised Arteta's insight ahead of Sunday's game

INSIDE TRACK: Pep has praised Arteta's insight ahead of Sunday's game

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hailed Mikel Arteta’s influence ahead of this weekend’s trip to Arsenal.

Arteta spent five years at the Emirates and helped them to two FA Cups - but left in the summer after retiring from playing.

He immediately joined City’s coaching staff – and Guardiola says he has provided key insights ahead of Sunday’s game.

“He is helping me a lot,” Guardiola said.

“He knows the players individually, he knows Arsene Wenger, he knows what we are facing on Sunday and he has already warned me it is going to be a really tough game.”

The game at the Emirates looks set to be crucial in determining City’s top-four hopes.

The Blues currently sit third in the table, seven points ahead of sixth-placed Arsenal, with the Gunners having played a game fewer. 

With the race for a top-four place so tight heading into the final stages of the season, Guardiola admits defeat would be a big blow to his side’s chances of finishing inside the Champions League places.

“Bad, definitely,” he said of the ramifications of a defeat. “In these games with big teams, the team who is winning has big hopes and the other one a big low.

“There's ten games left, so it’s the last part of the season. We spoke with them [the players about targets]."

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City play Arsenal twice in the space of three weeks, with the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley following Sunday’s league game.

Guardiola didn’t seek to play down the importance of the two matches against Arsenal when asked about their significance - and admits he already has one eye on a final.

“For both of us, Arsenal too, it’s important these two games,” he said.

“That and Chelsea and Hull City and Southampton. All the games now.

“Of course, we have an important game for our target in the Premier League and of course to achieve the Cup final.

“I hear a lot how important and beautiful it is that game at Wembley, the final and the semi-final, and it will be important.”

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Raheem Sterling

City stepped up preparations for Sunday's crucial trip to face Arsenal in training at the City Football Academy on Friday. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and John Stones were all back in action after the international break. Have a browse though our gallery for exclusive images from the session.