Pep Guardiola has apologised to Steven Gerrard after referencing the former Liverpool captain’s notorious slip during a passionate defence of Manchester City against allegations of financial wrongdoing on Friday.
The City boss asked hypothetically if City should also be blamed for Gerrard’s misfortune in 2014, which led to a Chelsea goal and victory which handed the Manchester side the initiative in a tight title run-in.
The incident was sung about by City fans as they responded to Guardiola’s rallying cry by producing a raucous atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium for the 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Ahead of the top-of-the-table Premier League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday, Guardiola said: “I apologise to Steven Gerrard for my unnecessary and stupid comments I said the last time about him.
“He knows how I admire him and his career and what he has done for this country I am living and training in.
“I am ashamed of myself for what I said because he doesn’t deserve it. I truly believe my comments about defending my club but I didn’t represent my club well putting his name in these stupid comments.
“I apologise, I said to him personally but I commented publicly and have to do it here as well. I am so sorry to him, his wife Alex, his kids and family because it was stupid.”
Erling Haaland remains a doubt for City’s trip to the Emirates Stadium.
The Premier League’s top scorer was substituted at half-time after taking a knock against Villa.
Who's this then? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/S9Ld2EuXPV
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 13, 2023
The Norwegian, who has scored 25 goals in the competition this season, took part in a recovery session on Monday but needs further assessment ahead of the top-of-the-table encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
Guardiola said: “We will train this afternoon, right now I don’t know. Yesterday was a recovery from the game against Aston Villa and that’s all.”
City head into the game with a chance to take over at the summit having cut the Gunners’ lead to three points with their victory over Villa.
It was a strong response to defeat at Tottenham the previous week and Guardiola is now hoping to build momentum.
Guardiola said: “I don’t believe in these statements that one week you can win and everything is perfect, tomorrow you can lose and everything is not good.
“There are many games to play, a lot of points. Tomorrow is another one, it’s (an) important one, we know it, everyone knows it and we have to try to perform well.”
The eagerly anticipated game is the first meeting between the two sides this season but they did face each other in the FA Cup last month when City won 1-0.
A look at the Top 1⃣0⃣ pic.twitter.com/bnbFFtPx4O
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 14, 2023
Guardiola said: “So far they are the best team in the Premier League. They played an incredible first round (of fixtures).
“We felt it, when we played them a few weeks ago, how committed and how sharp they are.
“We have to try to read the game and it will be a big, big battle. In every department you have to be ready.”