Pep Guardiola believes ‘Arsenal have taken a step forward’ despite FA Cup exit to Man City

Jason Soutar
Guardiola on Man City win

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Arsenal’s showing against his side in the FA Cup proves “how good a side they are”.

City’s win was the first time they have beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup since their first meeting in this competition in February 1904, back in the day when the Gunners were called Woolwich Arsenal and played at the Manor Ground.

It was a pretty cagey affair, with Nathan Ake’s second-half finish the only difference at the Etihad.

“We were definitely better in the second half,” Guardiola told BBC. “Arsenal have taken a step forward.

“It was a tight game and you realise how good a side they are. I did not expect the approach from them – man-to man – it was difficult to build up but we beat the team at the top of the league and are in the next round.

“What a season he [Ake] is playing. He controlled one of the toughest opponents in the Premier League because Saka is in an incredible moment.

“He is really good in the duels in the box, defending the far post and set pieces is an extra bonus. He is an exceptional guy, there was a period where he didn’t play and he never complained once.”

Ake agreed that City were a lot better in the second half after a passive display in the opening 45 minutes.

“In the second half we were a little better and played more our game,” the Dutch defender told ITV. “It was tough, they pressured us high. We had to use Erling more than usual.”

On his goal, Ake added: “A pass from Jack. It was the first one I ever scored with my right foot so pleased with that.

“Especially after a tough period, two good games before this one. It’s good to carry on this one. It gives us confidence for the next game.

“There’s still more to come. They are a very tough team. We stayed strong and didn’t concede.”

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted that the defeat was a bitter disappointment and insists his side “could have got much more out of the game”.

This was the first time the Gunners have faced City this season, with a crucial Premier League match at the Emirates coming up on February 15.

Arteta’s side are currently top of the league, five points clear of the champions with a game in hand.

On the FA Cup loss against Guardiola’s men, Arteta told ITV: “Really disappointed. I think we could have got much more out of the game.

“The action decided the game but it was a tight game and that one action changed it all. I think we could have dealt with it much better in terms of our discipline when the ball was in the box.

“We had big situations in the game and we didn’t put them away. We can take a lot of positives, I think the way we approached the game and competed. It is really difficult to win against this team but we went head to head with them.

“In the big moments, in big matches you have the make the difference. That is how you win these games.”

READ MORE: City beat Arsenal, but miss the opportunity to gain a psychological edge over their title rivals