Guardiola feels the tension as Arsenal, Man United wake up

What is eating Pep Guardiola right now? Maybe, just maybe, the Manchester City manager feels that his era of dominance is facing a new threat that is largely of his own making.

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On one flank, Mikel Arteta and Arsenal are attempting to claim City’s crown as Premier League champions: the two teams meet for the first time this season in Friday’s FA Cup fourth round tie (3 pm ET, broadcast live on ESPN+, US only.) at the Etihad, and closer to home, Guardiola may see Erik ten Hag breathing new life into Manchester United as City’s neighbors are finally, after 10 years of stagnation, ready to compete for the biggest trophies. great again.

Ten Hag coached Bayern Munich’s second team under Guardiola between 2013 and 2015, while Arteta was his assistant at City between 2016 and 2019. They are his protégés, now in charge of the Premier League giants and both possess a similar approach. Guardiola’s and the belief that they will soon be on top, with Pep merely an obstacle blocking their path.

Like Guardiola with people of the stature of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Joe Hart Y Sergio Aguero, both managers have shown a willingness to be ruthless when discarding or moving players who don’t fit their requirements. Arteta separated from Mesut Ozil Y Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangwhile Ten Hag quickly made it clear to Cristiano Ronaldo that it was his way or the highway at United, all the way to Saudi Arabia for the former Real Madrid striker.

Arteta and Ten Hag have seen Guardiola up close, watched him train and organize, heard him hatch revolutionary tactical ideas and, perhaps most importantly, witnessed him demand and impose complete control of the players at his disposal.

Arteta has spent three years in his project to revive Arsenal and turn it into a title challenger again. With the Gunners five points ahead of City at the top of the Premier League, the 40-year-old looks to be well ahead of schedule at the Emirates.

Meanwhile, Ten Hag has only been at United for six months and has shown his caliber by winning three Eredivisie titles with Ajax of the Netherlands. But despite his relatively brief time at Old Trafford, Ten Hag has already changed the mood and outlook and could end the club’s six-year trophy drought by winning the Carabao Cup next month, after beating They beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday (airs a replay on ESPN+, US only.).

So it’s clear that Guardiola now has two serious opponents to face, and what makes them potentially more dangerous than those that have come before them is the fact that both have learned from the master himself. He may have inadvertently groomed the coaches most likely to steal his crown.

Since joining Barcelona’s management in 2008, Guardiola has faced and outmaneuvered formidable managerial rivals. From winning the Champions League in his first season, to denying Sir Alex Ferguson the chance to win back-to-back European Cups (and his third as manager) at United, Guardiola has won every personal battle with a rival manager.

He emerged from his tempestuous rivalry with José Mourinho in Spain as the man with the most trophies at a time when Barcelona and Mourinho’s Real were arguably the two best teams in the world.

And with Bayern Munich and City, Guardiola has been locked in a decade-long duel with Jurgen Klopp, first at Borussia Dortmund and then at Liverpool, and has been forced to watch the German win him some of the world’s biggest trophies. important. But if you look at the two men’s honor list since their rivalry began in 2013, it’s 16-7 in favor of Guardiola, so there’s only one winner in that contest.



Guardiola criticizes Manchester City players for lack of passion

Pep Guardiola expresses his frustration after Manchester City’s comeback against Tottenham in the Premier League.

However, the 52-year-old is showing signs of uneasiness over new threats to his supremacy. In recent weeks, he has criticized his players, individually and collectively, and has even complained about his own team’s supporters and the lack of atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium.

And just this week, Guardiola said City had “no chance” of catching Arsenal in the title race if they continued to play as they have in recent weeks.

Managerial mind games, perhaps, but Guardiola has rarely veered into that dominance in the past and in doing so now, he hints at being distracted and worried about the threat posed by Arsenal and Arteta. With Ten Hag and United, the challenge is less immediate, but it’s there nonetheless.

Throughout Guardiola’s time at City, since he arrived in 2016, United have been nothing more than a sporadic problem, winning the occasional game against City and overspending to win them by signing players like Alexis Sanchez, harry maguire Y Fred. Guardiola has never had to worry about United being a rival in terms of winning trophies.

But when powerful and storied clubs like Arsenal and United gain momentum, it can be hard to stop them.

Klopp’s Liverpool has been an example of this. City prevailed in their rivalry with Liverpool, but dealing with two rising giants, led by determined, brilliant and forward-thinking managers, is a new problem for Guardiola and he is smart enough to know that it could be the most hard. he has faced since he arrived at the Etihad.

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