MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola says Mikel Arteta could still return to Manchester City as manager despite leaving the club for Arsenal.
Guardiola and his former assistant were meant to go head to head on Wednesday when Arsenal visited the Etihad Stadium, but the match was postponed due to fears over the spreading coronavirus.
Nonetheless, the Catalan has talked up Arteta as a possible City manager in the past and ahead of their first meeting as rival bosses said he would not rule out a comeback.
"I think he is at Arsenal and he will stay longer there," said Guardiola. "He's 37 years old and many things can happen. What happens in the future, I don't know."
Arteta endured a mixed start to his reign at the Emirates, but Arsenal have since found form, losing just one of their last 13 games in all competitions to keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish.
City had been looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, but Guardiola said it will not be easy against an Arsenal team with an insider in charge.
"He [Arteta] knows perfectly the way we feel, the way we want to play, the fact he knows every single player -- the strong points and the weak points," said Guardiola. "He has more information about us than I have about the Arsenal team but that's normal.
"It was a huge amount of hours working together, on thoughts and ideas, solving problems, before the game and during and after the game.
"Especially identifying the quality of the players. He knows exactly the way we love this game and the quality of the players."
Guardiola will have to decide whether to bring back Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian missed the derby with a shoulder problem.
City face Arsenal on Wednesday and Burnley on Saturday before Real Madrid's visit in the Champions League last-16 second leg the following Tuesday.
"Madrid and Newcastle are the more important targets [for De Bruyne], but it's important for a player to play the days before," said Guardiola.
"The rhythm of the team, like we've maintained in the last games, has to continue in that way. We cannot go from 0-10 in just one game. I prefer him to play before. It depends on the player."