With former Manchester City stars Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko helping Arsenal to the summit of the Premier League, Pep Guardiola has responded to criticism hurled at him for potentially assisting his rivals to win the league title.
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Both Jesus and Zinchenko opted for a new challenge this season when the duo traded the northwest of England for the nation's capital as they moved from the Etihad Stadium to the Emirates Stadium.
Jesus, who moved for a reported €52 million (R976 million), and Zinchenko, who is said to have transferred for a €35 million (R657 million) fee, have been integral to Mikel Arteta's system that finds the Gunners at the top of the English top flight.
With their former side trailing the north Londoners by five points, some feel Guardiola may have made a mistake by letting the Brazilian and the Ukrainian go, but the 52-year-old harbours no regrets about letting the pair join up with their former assistant manager Arteta.
"Oleks and Gabriel have been amazing with us," Guardiola said, as per Goal, prior to City and Arsenal's fifth round FA Cup clash on Friday night.
"I have incredible respect for them as a person and then as football players.
"Of course, we want to beat them. But with all the success they had, their families, well, I am more than delighted.
"If it has happened, it is because the players and both the clubs agreed with that.
"Many times Oleks could have left but he said, 'No, no I want to stay, I want to stay', and he stayed. Gabriel the same. They were here for a lot of years and they needed a new challenge.
“Arsenal wanted them and it happened in a natural way. So, if it's going well for them, congratulations.
"You have to try to beat them, be close to them, tomorrow, next weeks, later in the season and in the future."
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