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Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Pep v Arteta, Zinny and Gabby, and More...

FA Cup matchday headlines from Bitter and Blue.

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Manchester City Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

At long last, Manchester City v Arsenal FC part I has arrived. The top two teams in the Premier League face off in the FA Cup in the first of a trifecta of matches that will define this season for both clubs. Sky Blue News has the latest headlines to get you ready for all the action.

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Arsenal in the FA Cup Preview - Adam Howarth - City Report

Since City suffered back-to-back defeats, Pep Guardiola has seemingly made a statement with his team selections, choosing players who are currently ‘hungriest’ to get the club’s season back on track.

The Catalan is expected to field a similar team here, but with the cup competitions a little lower down the list of priorities, we may see a few changes.

Phil Foden is the club’s only potential absentee, having missed the previous two games due to a foot injury he sustained at Old Trafford earlier this month.

Guardiola gave an update on the 22-year-old’s fitness today, stating that he is ‘getting better’ and that he will be ‘assessed’ before tomorrow.

Stefan Ortega is likely to return in between the sticks. Ruben Dias will be eyeing his first start since injury at the heart of the Citizens backline, alongside any of the club’s other four top defenders.

Rico Lewis has continued his remarkable rise in the senior squad, starting the past two games; he may earn another start – though Kyle Walker may be given another chance coming up against Arsenal’s new man Leandro Trossard.

Pep Talk: “So we have to prove ourselves....” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Pep talked about injuries, expectations, the match and much more. Let’s dive in-

“It is getting better, we have training this afternoon.”

“It’s a different competition,” said Pep.

“It’s the FA Cup. It’s a final. And of course, it’s more than Arsenal - it’s about proving ourselves – how is our level?

“When a team makes 50 points in one leg, it’s because they have been the best and they are.

“So we have to prove ourselves, how far away or how close we are and the best way to notice is perform our best level.

“Otherwise against a team in that moment, it will be difficult.”

Pep Guardiola explains how Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta convinced him to join Man City as coach - Michael Plant - Manchester World

In the build-up to Friday’s FA Cup encounter between City and Arsenal, Arteta admitted he would ‘prefer not’ to be competing against his friend and former boss, and detailed the impact Guardiola has had on his career.

Speaking on Thursday, Guardiola also praised the Arsenal manager and was quizzed on the circumstances that led to his appointment in 2016. “We were in touch before,” he explained. “I have [City fitness coach] Lorenzo Buenaventura, maybe the closest friend because we started together in Barcelona.

“He knows Mikel really well and I knew him a little bit, but not like Loren. We made a conversation and he said, ‘I would like to work together and I can help you because I know the Premier League perfectly, I know all the managers’. I remember the first game was against Sunderland and it was against David Moyes and he said, ‘I know him well from Everton, he does this, he does that.


Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Arteta set the tone with words of praise for Guardiola’s impact on his career and coaching style.

He also pointed out the mixture of emotions that comes with challenging his mentor and the man who has dominated English football since arriving in 2016.

“It’s a strange feeling,” said Arteta.

“I want the best for him, genuinely, and when you are challenging with someone like this, something comes in between that.

“That’s not going to change any friendship, the moments that we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.

What Ruben Dias’ Injury has Cost Manchester City - Emmanuel Odey - Bitter and Blue

Unlike last season when the Portuguese was usually the first defender on the team sheet for most of the campaign, he has started only nine games this time around. He also contributed two goals and four assists to help the team secure the league title. So far this term, there has been no contribution in that regard.

But perhaps the most significant area has been in his primary duty on the pitch; stopping the opposing team from scoring.

So far City have been sloppy in defence during the last 15 minutes of games. It’s a new habit that has cost the team valuable points in the title race.

All three of City’s losses this season have come as a result of late goals. Against Liverpool at Anfield, Brentford at the Etihad Stadium, and more recently, Manchester United at Old Trafford. In all cases, City’s backline has been more or less experimental.

Dias was sidelined due to injury in the last two with the team struggling to keep up with Mikel Arteta’s side in the race. The Blues are now in a do-or-die situation with Arsenal. Sorting out things at the back will be vital to make up ground.

“Aleks and Gabriel have been amazing!” – Pep Guardiola praises former Manchester City duo ahead of Arsenal FA Cup showdown - Harry Winters - City Xtra

The pair both won four Premier League titles during their time with the Sky Blues, making over 350 appearances between themselves for Pep Guardiola.

Jesus moved to North London for a reported £45 million, while Zinchenko signed for Arsenal as part of a £32 million deal.

Both have played important roles in Mikel Arteta’s bid to win the Premier League title, with the Gunners currently five points clear of City at the top of the table.

Zinchenko could come up against his former club on Friday night, although Jesus remains sidelined with a long-term injury sustained at the FIFA World Cup.

And finally... In what has become the surest sign that spring is coming to Manchester soon, the predictions of a summer exodus from the Etihad have already begun.

Barcelona keeping an eye on Manchester City defender looking to leave – report - Udhav Arora - Barca Universal

Cancelo has been one of the best players in his position over the last two-three seasons, and City will not let him go easily. His asking price would sit around €70 million, which, as it stands, is entirely out of Barcelona’s financial curb.

An exclusive report from The Telegraph had previously claimed that Cancelo was not happy with his playing time this season at City, and was on the radar of Spanish clubs.

One can reasonably rule out Atletico Madrid from that list, leaving Barça and Real Madrid, both of whom are looking to sign fullbacks in the coming summer.

There you are Cityzens. Stay with Bitter and Blue throughout the day as we build toward kickoff, and follow all the action on Twitter with @BitterandBlue1. Come on City!!