Sunderland boss Lee Johnson believes Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta should use his “dad banter” against him in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie.
Johnson takes his League One outfit to the Emirates in the Carabao Cup quarter-final having unwittingly incurred the wrath of a section of the Gunners fanbase with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he would be happy to face the North London club in the last eight.
Asked if the Spaniard could use his words against him, the Black Cats head coach said: “Listen, that’s my mistake if he did. I would use it – why wouldn’t you? Whether or not he sees that as a big enough motivation…
“All I can say is I have the utmost respect for players, staff and the football club.”
Johnson found himself in hot water with Arsenal fans when, after being asked for his preference ahead of the draw, he said: “I’d love to have Arsenal away, or Tottenham away if not that. And then we’ll wait for the really big guns when it’s two legs.”
Asked if he regretted his remarks, he said: “I regret if it offended anybody because genuinely, anybody that knows me and probably watched the clip will know that it was tongue-in-cheek dad banter.
“My Twitter feed didn’t read it like that, let me tell you, for two or three days after.
“I can assure you I’ve got 100 per cent full respect because the first part of the question was a genuine answer in terms of they are the two clubs that I actually wanted to play because I haven’t played there and I haven’t managed there.”
Meanwhile, Willian has spoken out on his Arsenal exit as he has revealed that he wanted to leave just three months after he joined from Chelsea.
The winger had a poor season last term after joining the Gunners following the expiry of his Blues contract, scoring only once from his 37 appearances across all competitions.
Willian subsequently joined Brazillian side Corinthians on a free transfer. He has suggested that he “gave up” big money to leave Arsenal.
“I wasn’t happy. That’s why I didn’t perform. I don’t want to go into the details,” Willian stated via Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel Five.
“But after three months, I said to my agent: ‘Please, I want to go’. I don’t want to speak bad about the club, because it is a big club. Arsenal has a big history.”