Pep Guardiola has Arsene Wenger's back amid Arsenal tumult
MANCHESTER, England (AP) – A victory for Manchester City at Arsenal on Sunday would be a hammer blow for the London side's hopes of securing a Champions League place.
Arsenal, with one English Premier League win in its last five games, has slipped to sixth place with the very real prospect of not qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 1997.
While third-placed City do not intend to do Arsenal any favors, City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday offered his support to Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger, who seems to have been under-fire all season. Wenger has yet to reveal whether he will still be in charge next season.
''The fans respect what Arsene has done and is doing,'' Guardiola said. ''Whatever the bosses decide, I'm sure it will be the best for Arsenal.
''When Arsene starts to win, the fans will be happy again. I promise you, 100%.
''Arsene and the Arsenal players are so professional. When you lose a lot, it is the most dangerous moment to face them. I would prefer to face Arsenal after a lot of wins.''
Following the match at Emirates Stadium, the teams will meet again next month at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinals.
By then, on April 23, City could have Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus back playing some part. Guardiola gave an upbeat bulletin on Friday.
Jesus made an immediate impression after joining from Palmeiras in January, scoring three goals in five games before he broke a bone in his right foot and underwent surgery.
''The crutches are gone. He has started to work and hopefully he will start to run and then help us in the last games of the season and then come back in the preseason fit,'' Guardiola said.
City has drawn its last two league games and also bowed out of the Champions League to Monaco this month. Guardiola wants to see an improvement.
''We need to focus and correct some mistakes now and ahead to next season as well.''