Arsenal take on Manchester City at The Emirates Stadium, but will be without manager Mikel Arteta, who is self isolating after testing positive for coronavirus in the build-up to the fixture

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Mikel Arteta to miss New Year’s Day clash after testing positive for coronavirus

Pep Guardiola has branded Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s “best player” and believes the Gunners will be at a major disadvantage against his Manchester City side.

The Gunners host the Premier League champions in the first game of 2022, looking to continue their impressive form in recent weeks.

Arteta’s side have convincingly won their last five matches in all competitions, helping to strengthen their grip on a top-four place.

But they have struggled against the so-called ‘big six’ losing to City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool so far this season.

Arsenal will be looking to avenge the heavy defeat they suffered at the Etihad, but will be forced to do it without their manager on the sidelines.

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Pep Guardiola labelled Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s best player


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The Spaniard is self-isolating after returning a positive Covid-19 test in the build-up. The Gunners are set to have a skeleton coaching staff at the Emirates, something Guardiola thinks shouldn’t be understated.

“I would say Mikel is the most important player they have,” said Guardiola. “I know his charisma and ideas and especially, his personality to do what he believes is the best for the team and the club.

“The most important thing is for him to stay well, hope that the symptoms are low, everything is under control and he recovers and comes back to the place he loves, on the touchline and the sessions.

“But since I arrived here, it is the best Arsenal I have ever seen in six six seasons. It will be a challenge for us but we have an incredible opportunity to maintain the distance and continue our run.”

Arteta is set to communicate with coaches virtually against his old mentor Guardiola, but wants those present to take responsibility themselves.

“We will be in touch but as well I want to give them the possibility, the responsibility and the freedom to make decisions on the pitch and to express themselves,” Arteta explained in his virtual pre-match press conference.

Mikel Arteta worked as Guardiola’s assistant at Man City for three years

“Because it’s completely different being on the touchline close to those players and the action, than being at home.

“So, I’m going to be here to support and help in certain moments but they have to get the momentum of the game and communicate with the players themselves.”

He added: “I think I will need a big room so I can walk and move a little bit, because I won’t be able to stand on my sofa.

“ It’s a big, big game for us and it’s a really frustrating thing not to be able to be there helping the team, but I will do my best from here with everything that I can do.”

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