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Sunday 26 January 2020

Pep is positive Mikel will make it

Guardiola a big admirer of Leicester as Rodgers sings the praises of Sterling

Mikel Arteta is the perfect candidate for Arsenal
Mikel Arteta is the perfect candidate for Arsenal
Mikel Arteta chats to Raheem sterling, who has received high praise from Brendan Rodgers. Photo: Reuters

Pep Guardiola expects Mikel Arteta to "do an excellent job" as Arsenal's new manager.

Arsenal announced former Gunners player Arteta, 37, as a permanent replacement for Unai Emery just minutes after City boss Guardiola had held his press conference for this evening's home game against Leicester.

Guardiola had said earlier in the week that fellow Spaniard Arteta would be leaving with his best wishes after a three-and-a-half-year stint as his assistant.

"He decided to move there. You know when you have dreams," Guardiola said.

"You cannot stop it. Follow your dreams and Arsenal was a big part of his career as a football player and he's back at home.

"That's important to him and (Arsenal are) one of the best teams in England

"We wish him all the best. I'm pretty sure he will do an excellent job."

At his unveiling late yesterday at the Emirates Stadium, Arteta said: "I feel back home. I am extremely happy and proud to have been given the honour of being manager of this football club.

"I have prepared for the challenge and am ready. If I didn't feel that, I would not be siting in this chair."

Guardiola confirmed that City will not be looking to fill the gap Arteta will leave in his coaching staff.

"We will stay with the same people," Guardiola said. "Now we don't add, we can go with the people we have here."

Guardiola said Arteta had not been involved in preparations for the visit of second-placed Leicester, who sit four points above City in the table.

Former skipper Vincent Kompany's solitary goal in last season's corresponding fixture - City's final home game - edged Guardiola's side closer to the Premier League crown following their epic battle with Liverpool.

Guardiola is a big admirer of Leicester and is not surprised they are flying so high in the table. "They have a lot of quality and they play so good on the counter-attack. They are good positionally, they control all departments of the game, so they're a fantastic team.

"They were last season and after that game it was my feeling that they would be fighting for the top four and it's happened. Fantastic team."

Pep's Leicester rival, Brendan Rodgers, was always convinced Raheem Sterling would become "a world-class operator" after helping to feed his hunger during the early stages of his career at Liverpool.

Following his appointment as Reds boss in June 2012, Rodgers helped a then 17-year-old Sterling blossom before he was sold for £44million three years later to Manchester City.

Appreciating the player Sterling has become, Rodgers said: "Raheem was always a joy to work with.

"He was a very young player who had clear ambitions, but he backed that up with his work.

"When we put him into the team he played with such intensity, such drive and quality, and there were lots of positions he played in for me because he was so versatile, such an incredible young footballer.

"But he always had the hunger to learn, and when he left to go to Manchester City, you could see that hunger to improve."

Under Guardiola, Rodgers recognises Sterling has now become one of the game's top stars.

"With Pep's coaching he has developed into a consistently world-class operator, and he will believe himself there is still a lot more to come," added Rodgers.

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