Arteta steps into City limelight against Lyon

Mikel Arteta will step into Pep Guardiola’s shoes as Manchester City begin their Champions League campaign on Wednesday night.

Guardiola, City’s inspirational manager, will hand over first-team duties for the visit of Lyon to his number two as he serves a touchline ban for his sending-off against Liverpool last season.

Guardiola will not be allowed any contact with his players or backroom staff inside the Etihad Stadium and will have to watch from the stands as City bid to make a winning start in Group F.

“It is a good challenge, a very nice challenge, but if I had to choose, I would choose Pep on the touchline because he does that job better than anyone else,” said Arteta, who was given an early taste of managerial responsibility as Guardiola asked him to conduct the pre-match press conference.

“Up to now the preparation has been completely normal. The difference is we will have some rules, you must respect.

“I will be on the touchline and I’ll try to make the right decisions and for the rest, nothing will change.”

City, who won the Premier League with a record 100 points last season, have been made the early favourites for the Champions League.

City's outstanding 2017-18 campaign has seen them installed as Champions League favourites
City’s outstanding 2017-18 campaign has seen them installed as Champions League favourites (Martin Rickett/PA)

Arteta feels that is a tag City should embrace, even though he feels holders Real Madrid are the real favourites.

The 36-year-old said: “I am surprised when you have a team that won it three times in a row but that means we are doing things really well. People seriously think we are candidates to compete against other teams in Europe.

“There has to be a motivation, not a pressure, and that’s the way we take it. Hopefully we can improve on the last two seasons because we came short.”

Arteta, the former Everton and Arsenal midfielder, has established a good reputation as a coach and was heavily linked with the manager’s post at Arsenal in the summer.

City defender Aymeric Laporte said: “Normally the coach is on the bench, but we know what we need to do and we get plenty of guidance from Mikel who works with us every day. That helps us a lot.

“We get on well with Mikel. He was a terrific player and he spends a lot of time with us. He knows what a player is thinking so I think he’s a great coach.”

City will come up against a side that includes a rejuvenated Memphis Depay, who endured a miserable 19-month spell at Manchester United before leaving Old Trafford in January last year.

Depay bears no ill feeling towards United and admits he still feels the old rivalry.

The Dutchman said: “Everybody knows the story of me and Manchester United was not successful but I’m just happy that I’m the player I am today.

“For sure, the city is still red and we will try to get a good result against the Blues.”

City striker Sergio Aguero looked to have overcome his ankle knock as he trained ahead of the game but left-back Benjamin Mendy did not feature due to a knee problem.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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