Pep Guardiola described Mikel Arteta as an “incredible manager” after his Manchester City side beat struggling Arsenal 4-1 to reach the last four of the EFL Cup.
Arteta left his role as Guardiola’s assistant a year ago to take over at Arsenal but he is under intense scrutiny after a dismal start to the season, which has left the Gunners 15th in the Premier League.
He enjoyed no respite on Tuesday, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte sealing an 18th consecutive win in the competition for holders City after Alexandre Lacazette had cancelled out Gabriel Jesus’ early opener.
Arteta’s position will come under further scrutiny after Arsenal conceded four goals at home in an EFL Cup game for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to Chelsea in November 1998, but Guardiola is in no doubt about the Spaniard’s talents.
“What can I say, everybody knows we are judged on results. He can defend himself perfectly,” he told Sky Sports.
“I worked with him, we cannot have had our success without him. He is an incredible manager. I know his proposals and what he will do. Not even a little run of bad results is going to change my opinion.”
18 – Since losing to Manchester United in October 2016, Manchester City have progressed from each of their last 18 League Cup ties, winning the competition in each of the last three campaigns. Energised. pic.twitter.com/ThGclrxzh6
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2020
The victory meant City became the first team to win four consecutive away games against Arsenal in all competitions since Chelsea between 1960 and 1965.
They were helped on their way by Gunners goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson, who allowed Mahrez’s free-kick to squirm through his grasp and gift City a 2-1 lead.
It was Mahrez’s first goal from a free-kick since September 2019 – and his fifth in all competitions in English football – and the Algerian knew there was an element of luck to it.
“It was a solid performance,” he said. “We started good and then they equalised. We got lucky with the free-kick and then we got the third one and then it was easier for us.
“I was surprised at the position of Runarsson. He was so close to the post and luckily didn’t catch it properly and that was good for us.
“We’ve been struggling but it’s football. It’s not always easy to score four or five goals. Today we scored four goals and it was a solid performance.”
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