Pep Guardiola has defended striker Sergio Aguero after he was criticised for putting his arm on the shoulder of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.
Aguero, making his first appearance since June after a knee injury, disputed a throw-in call which went against him early in the second half of Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday.
After arguing his case with Massey-Ellis, Aguero then put his arm around her shoulder as she began to walk away – actions which drew attention on social media and led his former team-mate Micah Richards to say on Sky Sports that Aguero should “know better”.
Under rules introduced in 2016 players can be cautioned or sent off for touching match officials depending on the nature of the incident, but Aguero’s actions went unpunished.
In his post-match press conference, Guardiola said: “Come on guys. Sergio is the nicest person I ever met in my life. Look for problems in other situations, not in this one.”
Aguero, who played a key role in setting up Raheem Sterling’s decisive 23rd-minute goal, was replaced after 65 minutes of his comeback appearance.
Manchester City were accomplished in a victory in which they virtually shut Arsenal out in the second half. Before the break Pep Guardiola's side were almost as dominant, though an oft-cited defensive fragility was again evident that will continue to offer hope to opponents.