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Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Match Official, Ilkay Ready, and More...

Matchday headlines form Bitter and Blue.

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Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Manchester City finally get their shot at Arsenal FC in the Premier League today at the Emirates Stadium. City will be looking to go top of the table with a win over the Gunners. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get your matchday started.

‘I am ashamed of myself’ - Man City manager Pep Guardiola issues apology to Steven Gerrard - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News

Guardiola was expressing his pride in City’s history under their Abu Dhabi ownership after the Premier League hit the club with over 100 charges when he mentioned Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea, which helped hand the title to City that season.

“I don’t know if we are responsible for Steven Gerrard slipping at Anfield. Was that our fault? I have respect for Steven Gerrard - but that moment belongs to us,” Guardiola said on Friday.

But the City boss regretted those comments and has spoken to Gerrard personally to say sorry. He also opened his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Arsenal by making a public apology.

“I apologise to Steven Gerrard for my unnecessary and stupid comments I said the last time about him. He knows how I admire him and his career, what he has done for this country that I am living and training in,” said Guardiola.

Pep Talk: “Always I handle incredible human beings and incredible football players since I’ve been here.” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Pep Guardiola has really seen the team come together. The manager spoke about that, team fitness, injuries, Arsenal and much more.

Let’s get right in to it.

Pep on unity

“Listen, after [beating] Arsenal [in the FA Cup] there wasn’t suddenly this togetherness,”

“Always I handle incredible human beings and incredible football players since I’ve been here. I don’t complain once.

“Everyone makes mistakes - I’m the first, everyone has their own personalities and try to live together.

“More or less these years we have been perfectly together, players, club, staff, backroom staff. The mood is really good and has been for many years.


Though the result at the Emirates won’t decide the title, it could be pivotal with a win for the hosts establishing a six-point gap with a game in hand, while a City win would see Pep Guardiola’s men leapfrog the Gunners into pole position.

A draw would leave the gap at three points with 15 matches remaining for the Blues and 16 for Arsenal.

“It’s a very important game for us,” said Rodrigo.

“It is not a final, but we will have to play like it is a final because they are the best team in the league, up to now.

“We have been great over the last month even though sometimes we have not had the best results.

“I think the performance of the team against Aston Villa shows that we are going to fight, and we have to go there with a great ambition after recovery because it will be a massive game for us.”

Anthony Taylor appointed as referee for Arsenal vs Manchester City - Tom Cayless - City Report

One of the PGMOL’s most trusted referees, Taylor has officiated the Blues 36 times. However, City don’t have the best recent record with him in charge, losing twice to Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool once, drawing to both West Ham and Liverpool 2-2 – and finally, just the one victory against Wolves.

Despite the poor results, the 44-year-old awarded City three penalties in those six games. Pep Guardiola’s side did miss two of those – Sergio Aguero’s panenka attempt against Chelsea and Riyad Mahrez’s late miss against West Ham at the end of the last season.

As for cards, the Wythenshawe-born official has dished out 55 yellow cards and two reds in the league; that’s an average of 3.67 yellows per game. In the UEFA Champions League, however, his record increases; Taylor has given out 19 cards in just four games.

Pep Guardiola exclusive interview: Man City coach explains those inverted full-backs and why he trusts Rico Lewis - Adam Bate - Sky Sports

The Manchester City coach knows that his tactics will be praised, pored over and mimicked when successful. He also knows that when Lewis has the ball nicked off him for the only goal in a 1-0 defeat then he will be accused of ‘overthinking’ it once more.

But whether the decision to deploy players in that hybrid role, shuffling between left-back and the centre of midfield, is deemed the right one or not, Guardiola is clearly doing it for a reason. In conversation with him at the club’s training ground, he offers three.

“Firstly, because of the quality of the players. Secondly, because I like to play with wingers high and wide. Thirdly, because I am a big fan of the short passes so if you have more players from behind that you can bring into the middle I think you play better.

“These are the reasons why,” he tells Sky Sports.

“We are ready” – Ilkay Gundogan launches Manchester City battle cry ahead of Arsenal showdown - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

The challenge that looms for Manchester City is obvious, and players within the club recognise such a fact, with club captain Ilkay Gundogan going as far as to say that he and his teammates will be going up against the ‘best side in England’ so far this season.

As per new comments to the official club website, Ilkay Gundogan said ahead of the trip to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, “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.”

“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.

The Manchester City captain continued, “We are playing against the best side in England so far this season, so it is going to be a top game. They are a side that we know very well. We expect football on the highest level and we are all looking forward to it.”

And finally... Keep playing until the take your boots away Wilfried.

JUST KEEP BOL-IN Forgotten Premier League star and trophy winner at Man City joins TENTH club as he makes shock move to BOLIVIA - Joshua Mbu - The Sun

The ex-Ivory Coast star, who netted 18 goals in 59 appearances for his country, won a League Cup during his time at the Etihad - but ultimately failed to live up to the expectations of his £28.4million transfer.

Bony had a loan spell at Stoke between 2016 and 2017, before re-joining Swansea for another two-year stint.

His journey in the UK started and ended with Swansea, as he moved to the Middle East in 2019 to play for teams Al-Arabi and Al-Ittihad.

Bony spent three years playing in Qatar and then Saudi Arabia before returning to Holland to play for NEC Nijmegen.

But he only made a 15-minute substitute appearance from January onwards, and was let go at the end of the 2022 season.

There it is. Stay with Bitter and Blue all matchday long and follow @BitterandBlue1 on Twitter. Sky Blue News returns with more headlines tomorrow.