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Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Official Official, Erling Intensity, and More...

Your matchday morning 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

It’s matchday for Manchester City as they travel to London to face Chelsea FC in the Premier League. Sky Blue News is here to catch you up on all the latest before kickoff.


Arsenal dropped two points last night as they drew 0-0 with Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.

But Guardiola believes they’re still on course for a big total when the campaign concludes in May.

He stresses that the way to compete with the Gunners is to ‘play good and win games’.

He said: “The way you have to reduce the gap is play good and win games.

“They have an average they’re going to do 100 points, Arsenal, the way they’ve done so far.

“If they continue that way, we will not catch them. So you have to be almost perfect, I would say.

Pep Talk: “Tough game and Chelsea is a tough side. We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks.” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Pep on Chelsea

“Tough game and Chelsea is a tough side. We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks. We have to play well and take the points to close the gap, if Arsenal continue as they are, they will win [the PL title]...”

“Apart from the Brentford game, we have been better than the other [opponents]. It’s always difficult to beat teams who defend...”

“It’s never easy when teams sit back for a long time and waiting for one action. Always it’ll be, but we must find a solution and we have or else we wouldn’t have achieved what we’ve achieved...”

“For [the game against] Everton, I’m not completely disappointed with what we’ve done or upset. Hopefully we can do it in the next game when we face a team who plays this way [sitting deep and counter-attacking]...”

Chelsea vs. Manchester City: Predicted Line-up - James Fudge - Man City Square

There have been ludicrous murmurs around the fanbase that our most successful manager should depart the club following a few poor home performances and questionable selection choices.

One of those involving Foden at the weekend but there is every faith in the Spaniard to catch his junior in North London, and to win the Premier League this season. To do that, he must put out his strongest eleven.

Chelsea come into this fixture in indifferent form themselves as they failed to convince against the two promoted teams since the break. The Graham Potter revolution has yet to get the fans’ onside with transfer rumours proving more dramatic than their performances.

Paul Tierney to officiate Chelsea vs Manchester City - Ptolemy Horner - City Report

The Wigan-born official will referee City for the 24th time in his career this Thursday. His last outing with Pep Guardiola’s side was at the end of August as City thrashed Nottingham Forest 6-0, a game in which Erling Haaland scored his second hat trick in a row. However, this will be Tierney’s first time refereeing a game between City and Chelsea.

The 42-year-old has handed out 46 yellow cards in his 13 appearances in the Premier League this season, along with two red cards. For City, Tierney has handed out 31 yellow cards and zero red cards in his past 23 appearances.

Full Appointments

Referee: Paul Tierney

Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis & Neil Davies

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR: Michael Salisbury

Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn

Manchester City’s Ruben Dias ruled out, Aymeric Laporte doubtful for Chelsea clash - Oliver Thomas - Sports Mole

City have conceded in all three matches since club football resumed after the World Cup, conceding twice in a 3-2 EFL Cup win over Liverpool, before letting in a goal each in a 3-1 win over Leeds United and then a 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend.

Dias played the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Chelsea in November, but the former Benfica man will have to watch on from the sidelines on Thursday.

Fellow defender Aymeric Laporte is also a fitness concern for the Citizens, with Guardiola confirming that the Spaniard will be assessed in training before a decision is made on his availability.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Guardiola said: “Ruben is out. Aymer [Laporte], we will see today at the training session.”

Laporte featured in the EFL Cup win over Liverpool but was an unused substitute against Leeds before missing out entirely against Everton.

John Stones, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake are three centre-back options at Guardiola’s disposal for Thursday, with the latter – formerly of Chelsea – also capable of operating at left-back.

One defender who has impressed in recent weeks in 18-year-old right-back Rico Lewis, who has started in each of City’s last three games.

Pep Guardiola tells Man City striker Erling Haaland to show Everton passion vs Chelsea - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News

The Norwegian striker was walking a tightrope with some of his aggressive play and a few pundits believed he could have been sent-off for the challenge on Everton’s left-back.

But Guardiola had no issue with Haaland’s aggression in the game, as long as he uses his head to stay cool, and the City boss wouldn’t mind a repeat when his main marksman comes up against Kalidou Koulibaly and Thiago Silva at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

“I like it, the extra limit. Not just him, everyone. His behaviours, you always have to use [points to his head],” said Guardiola.

“But play with this passion. That is necessary. I prefer that than to be flat. Strikers have to handle tough, tough central defenders. It’s necessary.

“Tomorrow he’ll have a battle with Koulibaly and Thiago Silva. Always it’s a big challenge and that’s why the Premier League is so special.”

And finally... A young lad who’s dad really came through for him.

Young Man City fan’s sheer joy at receiving prized Erling Haaland collector’s item - Izzy Hawksworth - Manchester World

Sky Blues supporter Albie Goldrick, four, has been obsessed with the Norwegian striker since being taken to his first game with his dad Anthony Goldrick, 36, earlier this year. But he was left ‘disheartened’ when he started collecting the football trading cards and didn’t have one of his idol.

However, Anthony bought a Haaland card online for his son’s collection and surprised Albie, who was ecstatic when he realised he had received the gift. And an adorable video of Albie getting the card shows the youngster jumping around his living room shouting ‘Haaland’ repeatedly.

He can also be seen looking at the card and shouting ‘number nine’, Haaland’s shirt number. Albie’s mum Kirsty Goldrick, 34, said: “I knew he was going to be excited because he’s wanted it, but I didn’t expect him to be that excited. I was in absolute shock to be honest and his dad was as well because we knew he wanted it, but didn’t know how much he wanted it.”

There you have it Cityzens. Stay with Bitter and Blue throughout the day for all the latest leading up to the match. For all the latest reactions, follow @BitterandBlue1 on Twitter. Come on City!!!