Belfast Telegraph

Pep wants Arteta to stay as City net milestone century

Southampton 0 Man City 1

By Ed Elliot

Pep Guardiola will not stand in the way of Mikel Arteta becoming the next Arsenal manager but says he will be "the happiest guy in the world" if he stays with Manchester City.

City assistant coach Arteta, a former Gunners player, is reported to be one of the prime candidates to take over at the Emirates Stadium following the end of Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign.

The 36-year-old began working with City after retiring from playing in 2016 and performed a key role in this season's title success.

Guardiola, speaking after champions City beat Southampton to become the first club to accumulate 100 Premier League points, said he "wants the best" for his friend and colleague Arteta.

"What we have done this season, Mikel his contribution was outstanding, amazing, we work together so good," said the City boss.

"If he stays I will be the happiest guy in the world and if he decides to move because he has this offer, this option, I will not say you do not have to go.

"I want the best for my friends and he's a friend of mine.

"If he decides to go, I will be so sad but I will understand his decision because it's his career, his life, his family, and I am not the right guy to say you don't have to do that.

"But hopefully he can stay and finish what we started together in the upcoming years."

Guardiola, meanwhile, felt Gabriel Jesus' stoppage-time winner at Southampton was a "perfect" end to a remarkable season as champions City became the first club to amass 100 Premier League points.

Substitute Jesus lobbed the ball over Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy with virtually the last kick of the game at St Mary's following a superb pass from Kevin De Bruyne.

The last-gasp goal - six years to the day since Sergio Aguero's dramatic title-winning strike against QPR - sparked mayhem among City's players and travelling support.

And Guardiola hailed it as a fitting finale to a record-breaking campaign.

"100 points, still I cannot believe it," said Guardiola. "100 points is a massive achievement.

"Of course nothing changed before or during the game (in terms of the title) so 97, 98 but we have to play for something.

"During the game we were focused and at the end an excellent pass from Kevin and amazing finish from Gabriel made the difference and achieved that record.

"100 points is a lot; 50 points at home, 50 points away so it means how stable, how good we were all the season."

Formidable City set new records for points gained, goals scored and games won in a Premier League campaign by beating Brighton 3-1 on Wednesday evening.

Ahead of Monday's title parade through the streets of Manchester, they looked to have been thwarted in their attempts to accumulate a century of points before the sensational climax on the south coast ensured those figures became 100, 106 and 32 respectively.

While Guardiola thinks it is unlikely his team can break their own records next season, he feels his players can still get better.

"Today, we only had two or three shots on target, we can shoot more," he said.

"A team is individual players and always you can improve individual players so with that it makes sense to go to the training sessions and do it.

"When you analyse the numbers, I would say we can't improve the numbers, no. In terms of playing football, yes. Because the players can do better, the manager as well, in a group, in a team we can do better."

Despite Sunday's narrow defeat, Southampton avoided an improbable relegation.

SOUTHAMPTON: McCarthy, Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida, Hoedt, Bertrand (McQueen, 81 mins), Tadic, Hojbjerg, Romeu,

Redmond (Ward-Prowse, 64 mins),Austin (Long, 64 mins). Unused subs: Gabbiadini, Pied, Sims, Forster.

Man City: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Delph (Gabriel Jesus, 59 mins), De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan (Foden, 82 mins), Sterling, Bernardo Silva (Diaz, 78 mins), Sane. Unused subs: Walker, Kompany, Ederson, Zinchenko.

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Man of match: Fabian Delph

Match rating: 7/10

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