Pep Guardiola has said he does not respect Arsenal “off the pitch” as the fallout from the success of Manchester City’s Champions League ban appeal rumbles.
City’s two-year ban from Europe’s premier club competition was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week in a landmark ruling against UEFA’s governing body.
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Guardiola later accused Arsenal and other Premier League rivals of ‘whispering’ – of complicity behind City’s back to ensure their ban for alleged financial fair play violations is upheld.
Arsenal knocked out City in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, but when asked an unrelated question about preparations to face Watford and Norwich, Guardiola returned to the subject of Mikel’s squad Arteta.
“I said that after Arsenal we did not play the first half against Arsenal like the second,” he said. “It was the only regret. We wanted to play 90 minutes like in the second half. But after being beaten, we shake hands.
“Opponents always deserve my respect and credit. And Arsenal, I have all respect for who they are on the pitch, not much off the pitch – but on the pitch, a lot. Congratulations to them and good luck for the final. “
Some at the Etihad believe Arsenal had an influence on the process which saw eight top clubs – all of the top 10 at the time, Bar City and Sheffield United – write a letter to UEFA insisting on the fact that City’s ban applies while their appeal was still pending.
Arsenal have always been one of the strongest supporters of UEFA’s controversial FFP measures, with former manager Arsene Wenger publicly supporting the measures on numerous occasions until a change of heart in 2017.
Guardiola verified Arsenal’s name on several occasions during last week’s fiery press conference, a day after Cas’s verdict was announced, saying both Liverpool and Manchester United found City’s success ‘uncomfortable’.