Pep Guardiola has said he has no regret over Manchester City’s decision to allow Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus to join Arsenal last summer.
The pair have helped guide the Gunners to top spot in the Premier League table and their experience of winning titles could ultimately prove to be the difference between City and Arsenal as they compete for first place this season.
The champions have endured a disappointing few weeks with a poor display against Chelsea in the league followed by losses to Southampton and Manchester United, while on Thursday Guardiola questioned his team’s desire and concentration after they had to come from two goals down to beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2.
But Guardiola insisted City’s indifferent form is not down to letting two key players join Arsenal last summer, as well as Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho departing. Asked if he regretted selling Zinchenko and Jesus to Arsenal, the City manager responded: “No. I always say, when you want to stay or leave, I cannot [make them] stay. I wish the best for Gabriel and Oleks. Fantastic people and they help us a lot. It is not about that.
“I never say for one player to leave. It is the club and the decisions they make,” he added. Of course Erling [Haaland] comes [last summer], for Gabriel it was difficult, and Julian [Alvarez]maybe. It happens, it’s normal.
“So it is not about that. It was a good deal and Raheem, Oleks and Gabriel, always I have big compliments and thank you for what they have done for us. After, it was a good transfer for the club and everything. Honestly, we are not in the position we are because we do not have Oleks or the others.”
Guardiola said on Thursday night that City can’t catch Arsenal in the title race if they keep performing as poorly as they have been over recent weeks, and he named several areas where he feels Mikel Arteta’s men are currently outperforming his side.
“They have everything with set-pieces with defensive organisation - they defend with 10 players in the box, five at the back, six at the back, good transitions, win duels,” Guardiola explained. “How they celebrate the goals, how they talk, how they look at each other, how they communicate. This is football, this is tactics as well. Right now we don’t have it.”