Official: Pep Guardiola insists JEALOUSY is the reason behind the criticism of Mikel Arteta's touchline antics

Official: Pep Guardiola insists JEALOUSY is the reason behind the criticism of Mikel Arteta's touchline antics

The pair, known to be close friends following their time at Manchester City, meet for the first time this season when Arsenal go to the Etihad Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night.

 Arteta has been condemned by several pundits in recent weeks for his behaviour, noticeably picking up a yellow card during Sunday's last-gasp victory over Manchester United.

 But Guardiola - no stranger to a touchline fracas himself - backed the Arsenal boss, while suggesting that friendship does not preclude the two of them reaching a flashpoint in the future.

 'Absolutely,' Guardiola said when asked if jealousy was a factor in criticism.  When you are top of the league they have to undermine you for another reason.  And they are doing that right now.  I know this situation quite well.

 'He wants to beat me and I want to beat him.'  I know how we both are and in defeat we are not the best friends in the world.

 'From my point of view I have a huge respect for him as a person, as a manager.  That's not going to change if we're going to fight on the touchline.

 'Sooner or later it's going to happen I guess but when that is going to happen it's not going to change the respect I have for him.'

 Arteta sits five points clear of Guardiola in the Premier League title race with a game in hand as he attempts to deliver Arsenal's first crown since 2004.

 Guardiola reiterated his belief that the 40-year-old would have been the perfect successor to him at City.  And, but for Arsenal's interest, Arteta would eventually have taken the hot seat.

 'I am pretty sure if I would have left before, he would be here,' the Catalan added.  And he would be the best, absolutely.  But I extended the contract, I am sorry.  And he didn't wait, so it could not happen.

 'Everyone has dreams and I know he went to his club, the team he dreams of.  He is a supporter of Arsenal - he played there and loves the club.  When we scored a lot of goals here, he always jumped up and celebrated, except against one team.

 Then I jumped and he was just sitting there.  It was Arsenal and I said, "that guy likes Arsenal!"  I am not the person to say, "You have to stay here, you have a contract."  You have to fly, life is too short.'

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