MAN CITY - ARSENAL

Guardiola and Wenger weigh style v substance

Long portrayed as a lone idealist amid the cut-throat pragmatism of the Premier League, the Arsenal trainer has found a new ally in his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola and Wenger weigh style v substance
Tony O'Brien REUTERS

A style clash

Long portrayed as a lone idealist amid the cut-throat pragmatism of the Premier League, Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has found a new ally in his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. The two face off at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (17:00 CET) at a time when Guardiola's attachment to attacking football has itself come under attack, following damaging losses to Chelsea and Leicester City.

Guardiola was derided after City's 4-2 defeat at Leicester for saying he was "not a coach for the tackles", but Wenger, often accused himself of prizing style over substance, rode to his defence.

A similar brand of football

"Pep Guardiola, like myself, we are for offensive football and when you don't win, people question that. And that's as simple as that," Wenger said.

Guardiola makes no secret of his admiration for Wenger and spoke out in support of the Frenchman in 2014 after he was branded a "specialist in failure" by long-time nemesis Jose Mourinho.

Mutual respect

"This life," Guardiola said at the time, "is not just about winning trophies."

He has been here a long time. When that happens at a club such as Arsenal, it's because a person is doing a good job," Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference.

"I understand it's not easy to win the Premier League, but I have a lot of respect for his career.

"I've said many times that I admire the way he tries to play and especially the quality of the players they like and they buy. I like a lot," the Man City coach said.