Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has jumped to the defence of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after the Gunners’ humiliation on Sunday.
Wenger fielded an unfamiliar side at Old Trafford for their clash with champions Manchester United – handing starts to Carl Jenkinson, Armand Traore and Francis Coquelin – and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won 8-2, handing a crushing blow to Arsenal.
Wenger has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks, following an unconvincing display against Udinese in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, while the 61-year-old has seen playmakers Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leave the club in the transfer window.
But Guardiola, recipient of the services of Fabregas at Camp Nou, defended his coaching counterpart, pointing to the positive work Wenger has done in building the club.
“I agree with (Sir) Alex Ferguson’s opinion about (Arsene) Wenger, when he said that he didn’t know if there could be another coach who could do as much as he has for Arsenal during all these years,” Guardiola said.
“It’s not just the departure of (Samir) Nasri and Cesc (Fabregas) but also (Jack) Wilshire’s injury that means he can’t play and all the other injuries across the squad.”
“They have always progressed far and been competitive in the Premier League over the past decade, always with a very characteristic style of football. When you think of Arsenal you think of a team that has played very nice football.”
Guardiola said Arsenal’s luck in the injury department did not help their cause before the Manchester mauling.
“The winner is not always the good one as the loser is not always the bad one. In sport there are many good things that have nothing to do with winning or losing. I think what Wenger has done for soccer in general…Arsenal is big,” the Spaniard said.
“Of course you can always go to Manchester’s stadium, who have so many good players, and Arsenal with so many injuries these things can happen.”
Guardiola was not distracted by United’s brilliance on Sunday – keeping an eye on the ‘other’ Mancunians.
“They (Manchester City) can do it (win the Champions League). If you see the players and you see their manager they can do it,” he said.
“Maybe they don’t have the history in the last years to play in the Premiership or Europe, but if you see those names you nominated right now they are awesome.”
“Dzeko, Aguero, Tevez, Silva, Barry, Balotelli, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure. All of them are top, top, top players and they started very good in the Premiership.”