Morning all.

Mikel Arteta, from Spain to Scotland to Everton and then Arsenal. A 31st August signing back in 2011. Midfielder, vice captain and finally captain before hanging up his boots and heading to Manchester City as assistant coach to Pep Guardiola. According to reports at the time, Mikel Arteta had three options upon retirement. Manage the Arsenal Academy, join Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff at Totts or work alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Well, he was never going to Totts was he and if the offer from Arsene Wenger really was to look after the academy, well, I suspect Mikel Arteta wanted a first team role. Either that or working with Pep was too good an offer to turn down.

Pep Guardiola:

I am not a guy to say, ‘no, you have to stay with me. Everyone has dreams. We felt if one team could offer him (the chance) to be manager he would leave. I know he went to ‘his’ club, the team he dreams of. He’s a supporter, for the fact he played there, he was a captain there. He loves the club. I remember when we were together here, when we scored goals, he’d jump a lot and celebrate – except against one team, Arsenal. People have to fly when they believe it is the best. Life is too short. Spend time in a place you believe suits you better.

That ‘one (club) team’ came calling and on the 20th December 2019, Mikel Arteta became manager at Arsenal and just a few months later, when the two Spaniards went head to head in the FA Cup semi-final, it was Arsenal who triumphed 2–0. In the final against Chelsea, Arsenal ended the game with a 14th FA Cup trophy in the bag.

Today, Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta go head to head in the FA Cup again.

  • Manchester City beat Chelsea 4-0 in the last round of this competition.
  • Arsenal beat Oxford 3-0 win.
  • City have had the upper hand for a few seasons in the League but when it comes to the FA Cup, the last two semi-final fixtures between the two clubs, Arsenal have not only beaten City but gone on to beat Chelsea in the final.

I think anyone who loves football will be watching this one tonight. It’s top of the League up against second, Pep v Mikel, probably the best footballing team/squad in the game against a team/squad striving to be the best. A seasoned and extremely successful manager against one of the youngest but already well admired managers in England. At least I think he is.

I’ve no idea how Mikel Arteta will approach this game other than he’ll obviously want to win it. Will he rotate his players, giving a few a rest, or will he go full throttle with his strongest starting eleven. We know Mo Elneny is ruled out for the foreseeable, as is both Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Jesus so midfield and striker options are limited.

As for Guardiola, well, against Chelsea in the last round, he rested the big fella but then why not when Julian Alvarez is the alternative. Guardiola made a few more changes to his Premier League usual’s but that’s the difference between Man City and Arsenal right now, squad depth. It’s perhaps the only difference other than the League titles City have won since the big spending owners arrived at the club. Before then, a bit like Chelsea before the Russian started spending money, league titles were little more than a dream.

Win or lose, I don’t think Arsenal have anything to prove. Those who matter, ie the board, staff, players and fans can see what’s happening on the pitch and it’s good. Very good and in my opinion,     Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, are only going to get better.

I still fancy us to win though, even if it takes a replay..

Catch up in the comments.