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Sky Blue News: Villa Wrap UP, On to Arsenal, Erling Fit?, and More...

Tuesday headlines from Bitter and Blue.

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Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester City Women will not be back in action until February 26th. Meanwhile, the MCFC Men are playing the second of 6 matches in 17 days. This time they face Arsenal FC away with a chance to go top of the table. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get you ready.

Rodri delivers Arsenal verdict after Man City win over Aston Villa - Mark Caruthers - Manchester World

City’s dominance of the first-half brought the reward of a three-goal lead when the half-time whistle was blown as Ilkay Gundogan and Mahrez both added to their lead in the final five minutes before the interval. Ollie Watkins pulled a goal back for Villa after the break but City held firm and ensured they gave themselves the best possible preparation for a title showdown with leaders Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

He told Sky Sports: “Today was a game to show that we are in a good mood, in good shape. From the first minute we did a great game, we stayed on the run, we are happy and every game is a cup final for us.

“We always have the feeling at the Etihad that if we can score one or two goals in the first minutes the game is for us. That’s the mood of the team, we go for it from the first minute and even though we can score more goals, we are happy with the performance.”

Manchester City Take Care of Aston Villa, 3-1: Reaction & Tweets - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Manchester City played with a real chip on their shoulder as they win at home and continue the pressure on league leaders Arsenal. Pep Guardiola played with only three defenders as the club kept control and played perhaps their best 45 minutes of the year.

We move on to the reaction-

Pep Guardiola Reaction

“Erling has a kick and we will see,” Guardiola said. “We will assess him in the next few days to see how severe it is.

“At half-time I spoke with the doctors to see and they said maybe at 3-0 we don’t need to take a risk and I agreed with the doctors.

“If the score was more tight maybe I wouldn’t do it. I think he’s not injured but tomorrow we will see. Hopefully he can play there on Wednesday. If he’s not ready or it’s a risk he’s not going to play.”

“The players at the bottom of the league are fighting for so many things. Every game is tougher and tougher.

‘We aren’t speaking about them’ – Granit Xhaka & Arsenal ignoring Man City in Premier League title bid - Chris Burton - Goal

WHAT HAPPENED? The Gunners have occupied the loftiest of perches in the English top-flight for several weeks now, but suddenly have the defending champions breathing down their neck. City are due at Emirates Stadium for a crunch clash on Wednesday that could see them move to the summit if three points can be collected in north London. Xhaka insists that those in Mikel Arteta’s squad will not be giving too much thought to what City can do this season, with focus locked on their own efforts to savour a first title triumph since 2003-04.

WHAT THEY SAID: Swiss midfielder Xhaka told reporters after seeing Arsenal drop two more priceless points in a 1-1 draw with Brentford: “If we are honest, we are not speaking about them [City]. We are looking at ourselves, game by game. We didn’t win [against Brentford], we took one point. And Wednesday is big - for them, for us. So, let’s see.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Arsenal head into a meeting with City feeling a little hard done by, with replays showing that – despite a VAR check being carried out – Ivan Toney’s equaliser on Saturday should not have stood due to Ethan Pinnock being offside in the build-up. The Premier League’s referee chief, Howard Webb, has since apologised, with Xhaka saying of the incident: “We are disappointed because what we hear is that the blocker was offside, where we have got our player. I don’t know why they change the rules weekend by weekend. But it’s the referee’s decision not to give the offside, our decision to mark the players, the runners. We didn’t do it and you concede a goal like this.”

Arsenal vs. Manchester City: 5 Questions with Bitter & Blue (Round 2) - Nathan Reynolds - The Short Fuse

Arsenal have dropped points in three of their last five Premier League matches. The primary rivals won on Sunday closing the game to three points but having played one extra match. Referee apologies that come with no recourse. 100 allegations of financial breaches from the league levied at Manchester City. All of that, and more, as the top two clubs in England, prepare to face off for the first time in the Premier League this season.

For the second time in a few weeks with talked with Saul Garcia from SB Nation’s Bitter & Blue with a focus on the Premier League and the financial charges this time around.

TSF: Obviously, we could spend an entire Q&A article or a series of articles, discussing the Premier League’s 100 charges levied against Manchester City. Give us an overview of the general sense from the Bitter & Blue team after reading through the charges put forth by the league.

B&B: The sense over at BnB is one of curiosity. Both in the timing, breadth of charges, and even in the variety of charges. The Premier League did not have everything buttoned up and while some charges are serious and contain merit to investigate others were not so and it will make for a really interesting scope as we follow this trial over the next few years.


Gundogan believes the game will be one of the most difficult we’ve faced in recent seasons with Mikel Arteta’s side in outstanding form in the first half of the season.

But that won’t stop City heading to North London with confidence that we can get the result needed to move into top spot, with no thoughts of settling for a draw.

“Most probably it is going to be one of the toughest games we have played in recent years, against a very strong Arsenal side with a very similar style of play with a great manager and a great team,” the German international said.

“I think we are ready to go on Wednesday. We will travel to London to try to win the game and get the three points, even though we know it is going to be hard, but it is going to be a top game and we will try to get the three points.

Erling Haaland fitness status ahead of Arsenal revealed in fresh training ground pictures - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

As revealed in new training photos provided by Manchester City’s official club website on Monday afternoon, Erling Haaland participated in training as normal, despite being replaced at half-time on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester City will be facing Arsenal in the Premier League for the first time since January 2022, knowing that a win at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night could move them within just three points of Mikel Arteta’s side.

City have however already beaten Arsenal once this season, knocking out their Premier League title challengers in the FA Cup fourth round at the Etihad Stadium, courtesy of a single goal from Nathan Ake in the second-half.

And finally... Will Ferrell at the Etihad.

Why Will Ferrell was at Man City vs Aston Villa game - after showing up at Wrexham FC - Jenny Simpson - Manchester World

The Elf and Anchorman actor, who co-owns American side LA Galaxy, appeared at the Etihad to watch Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-1 - and snap a few selfies with Sky Blues players. His visit on Sunday came the day after Ferrell popped up at Wrexham FC, which is co-owned by fellow Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds.

Ferrell earlier appeared on Sky Sports pre-match coverage alongside pundits Gary Neville and Roy Keane and explained why he was in the UK on a mini tour of football grounds. The actor said: “I’m on a recruiting trip for (LA Galaxy).

“I’m seeing if (City) measure up to the MLS (Major League Soccer). I don’t really have a side over here. I just enjoy following all the storylines. It’s obviously a very good league.”

There you have it. Stay with Bitter and Blue as we build toward the match against the Guneers. Come back tomorrow for more from Sky Blue News.