When Manchester City take on Arsenal on Wednesday evening, there’ll be no animosity expected between either manager, something relatively unusual in the high-pressure modern game.
That’s because Pep Guardiola is looking forward to welcoming his former assistant, Mikel Arteta, back to the Etihad Stadium for what could be a crucial fixture for a number of reasons.
The Gunners are currently sat in ninth place on 40 points, but an achievable eight points behind Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.
Further, an Arsenal win arguably benefits Liverpool who could potentially then clinch their first top-flight title in three decades on Sunday at Everton.
With City only four points ahead of Leicester City in third, it’s imperative that the hosts go all out for the three points too, but the competitive nature of the fixture won’t stop the two friends enjoying a long-overdue catch up.
“I’m so excited to see him, one of the nicest people I ever met,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference, cited by the Manchester Evening News.
“It was a joy for me and for all of us to work with him. The feeling I have is he’s happy there (at Arsenal) and doing an incredible job.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him. This game belongs to the players, they make the difference. He knows absolutely everything on us, he was an incredibly important part of our success, he helped us to be who were were and who we are.
“We are delighted he will come back, especially if he is happy there. We sent a message an hour and a half ago. It was about the wine we are going to drink after the game if social distance allows!”
With no supporters at the ground, both sides will have to get used to playing in the eerie atmosphere of an almost silent stadium.
Regardless of whether that benefits the hosts or the visitors, the camaraderie between the two managers is likely to continue long after the final whistle.