Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta, has revealed he is still being mentored by Pep Guardiola.
The former Manchester City assistant will return to the Etihad tonight to face his old boss for the first time since leaving for North London in December.
The two remain close friends and although their line of communication has been cut this week, Arteta said Guardiola is usually available to offer advice on coaching, amongst other things.
“We have spoken a lot of times since I left,” said the Gunners boss. “We talk about football, life, family, it’s not just a professional relationship.
“Do I ask him about managerial issues? I have all his backing to ask him any question, I know he’ll always answer as well because he knows me really well, how I feel and how I think. I’ve got him there, it’s a good thing for me.
“He is very supportive, for me he’s been a key figure since I was 15 years old when he was captain of Barcelona . He’s been a key figure in my life and my profession in the last four years because we spent a lot of time together.
“I cannot be more grateful, I cannot be happier, for the times we have shared, the way he has treated me all this time, the way he still treats me and the relationship we have.”
Arteta elected to take his first head coach’s job at Arsenal instead of waiting to succeed Guardiola.
“He was always right behind me,” insisted Arteta.
After being unveiled by Arsenal in December, Arteta said he had learned the need to be “ruthless” to create a winning mentality from Guardiola.
And before this game he said the City manager’s man-management skills, clarity of thought and readiness to take risks made him the modern-day Special One.
But asked if he was no copying the Guardiola blueprint, Arteta smiled: “If you copy-paste it is always bad. “Everyone feels thing in different way. It is a completely different context with the situations at City and Arsenal so I think it would be a bad thing to do from my side.”
The last time the two teams played at the Emirates in December, Arteta was on the away bench as City took a 3-0 lead inside 40 minutes against a shambolic Arsenal side.
He was photographed meeting Gunners officials that night. This time Arsenal are on an eight-match Premier League unbeaten run while City are still smarting from a derby drubbing.
“They will respond for sure,” Arteta warned. “They are a team that is so used to winning and after every defeat they reacted straight away, that is what I’m saying – we have to be at our best.
“It’s going to be a very special night, I am very excited to get back there. I have some fantastic memories, a lot of friends, a lot of people that I like. But obviously now I am in a different position, another bench and I will defend my club as well as I can.”