MIKEL ARTETA has lifted the lid on his bromance with Mauricio Pochettino as they prepare to go head-to-head in the dugout for the first time.
Arsenal and Chelsea clash in Saturday's 5.30pm kick-off, with both managers turning from friends to rivals for the London derby.
The duo played together at Paris Saint-Germain in 2001, with Arteta describing Pochettino as "one of the most influential people in my football career".
Ahead of the clash, Arteta recalled how they lived in the same hotel room for three months and how Pochettino took him under his wing.
Arteta said: "A big part of the success that I had in Paris was because of him because he really looked after me and gave me a lot of confidence and advice.
"He’s been a role model for me since that day, not only when I was a player but as a manager as well.
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"I had to make the decision to leave playing and start my coaching career and he had a big say on that. I will be always grateful for what he has done for me."
However, Arteta revealed he chose not to heed the Argentine's advice on going into management, with Pochettino warning him: "Don't go into coaching. It's too hard."
Arteta added: "I knew he was going to be a coach. I followed him very closely obviously because as a player he was already a leader, the way he understood the game, it was phenomenal.
"I used to have him constantly coaching me and I'm very proud of what he's done and especially the way he's done it through his coaching career."
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Pochettino shares this fondness for the Spaniard despite the 10-year age gap between them.
On Arteta, Pochettino said: "He's part of my family. When I arrived in Paris we spent time together, in the hotel and then we lived very close.
"It's not surprised me what he's doing because he was a coach when I met him when he was 17!
"He's great and still really young. He's improving day by day. He can be one of the best managers in the game."
Speaking in 2014 after Arteta had said he was "like a dad" to him, Pochettino said: "I love Mikel. He was like my brother. My son? No, my brother."
Arteta was appointed Arsenal manager just one month after Pochettino was sacked from his position at Tottenham.
Pochettino then moved abroad to manage PSG, where he won the Ligue 1 title before returning to London to take over at Stamford Bridge.
Back in England, Arteta lifted the FA Cup in his first season with Arsenal but struggled to get the team performing in the Premier League with two eighth place finishes.
However, after a lengthy rebuild, results soon picked up, leading to Arsenal challenging for the title last season.
The North London club are gunning to go one better and lift the trophy this season, having beaten Manchester City in their last game.
Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will represent a different test, with Pochettino's youthful squad only recently finding form.
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The hosts had been boosted by Reece James' return before the full-back suffered another injury setback.
Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka remains a doubt for the title-chasing Gunners after being forced to pull out of England duty.
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