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Sky Blue News: Erling Update, Official Named, Rodri’s Role, and More...

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Manchester City v Burnley: Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City men are set to face Liverpool at the Etihad on Saturday. The women’s side are off to London for a Sunday date with Arsenal FC. Sky Blue News is here with all the latest to get you ready for both.

Erling Haaland latest: Manchester City striker now in ‘serious doubt’ ahead of Liverpool clash - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

During the break, the 22 year-old is understood to have visited City’s partnership hospital in Barcelona for further assessment and treatment, before continuing his rehabilitation in Marbella alongside a member of the club’s medical staff.

Haaland returned to Manchester on Sunday evening, arriving at the city’s international airport via private jet as he looked to step up his rehabilitation ahead of the Premier League clash against Liverpool this weekend, while the club continued to conduct medical tests.

However, with very little time remaining until the showdown with Jurgen Klopp’s side at the weekend, City continue to sweat on the availability of their 42-goal striking sensation

According to Chris Wheeler of the Mail, Erling Haaland is now a ‘serious doubt’ for Manchester City against Liverpool having missed two training sessions since Pep Guardiola’s squad returned from their respective international commitments.

The player’s father, Alfie Haaland has already indicated that his son would be a huge doubt for the meeting this weekend, as he told reporters during the international break that the situation would be ‘touch and go’.

“Firstly, I’m not a doctor and secondly, I think it’s ‘touch and go’, yes,” Haaland senior responded. “You can’t just go two weeks without training and then jump right into a fight.

Man City get Erling Haaland injury update as squad train ahead of Liverpool FC clash - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News

Haaland is recovering from a groin issue picked up in the FA Cup win over Burnley that forced him to withdraw from international duty with Norway shortly after linking up with the squad. Haaland’s father then confirmed the striker had been to City’s partner hospital in Barcelona for tests, admitting that he was ‘touch-and-go’ for the Liverpool game.

Haaland was not in pictures published by City on Wednesday as the squad rejoined after the international break, although that could not confirm whether he actually trained or not. On Thursday, footage showed that Haaland was absent from the group, suggesting he is not yet recovered from his injury.

ALSO READ: Rodri has become Man City’s unlikely pantomime villain

City now have two days before the Liverpool fixture, where they will be looking to put a dent in Arsenal’s eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Blues also have a two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich coming up.

Phil Foden was also absent after having surgery at the weekend to remove his appendix, which had already ruled him out of the Liverpool game. Ederson, who couldn’t feature for Brazil last week due to illness, has trained, however. In footage relayed by Sky Sports, it was stressed that not every City player had come out from the dressing room, so there is an outside chance that Haaland may have joined the training group at a later stage after cameras had departed - or that he was working indoors away from cameras.

Should Manchester City Let Ilkay Gundogan Leave in the Summer? - Emmanuel Odey - Bitter and Blue

Widely recognised as Pep Guardiola’s first signing after taking the reins at Manchester City, the German international has been impeccable throughout his time at the club. Although initially hindered by injuries he has since been one of City’s best players season after season.

With top notch tactical awareness, impeccable close control, passing and dribbling ability with an eye for goals, he is the complete midfielder. Guardiola’s appreciation of his talent and ability even though he was on the opposing team playing for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich led to his signing immediately the Catalan boss arrived England.

Since moving to the Etihad Stadium, he has been central to the team’s success in the last several seasons and ranks as one of Guardiola’s favourite players. With his experience and demeanor, it was only fitting for him to inherit the armband after Fernandinho left the club.

His running one year contract was renewed last season. But with the season set to end in a few months, both parties have not reached an agreement for another extension. That means the midfielder is headed for the exit door at the end of the campaign. But will letting him go at this point be the best decision for City?

Gundogan may not be the young and energetic player he was seven years ago when he joined Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund, but he is certainly still one of the best midfielders in Europe at the moment. What he has lost to youthfulness, he has gained in experience.

Simon Hooper appointed as referee for Manchester City vs Liverpool - Tom Cayless - City Report

Following the international break, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side is back in action in yet another must-win Premier League encounter. The Blues welcome Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the Etihad this Saturday lunchtime in a game that will be broadcasted live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom. The Premier League has appointed Simon Hooper as the referee.

Simon Hooper

So far this season, the Wiltshiremen has taken charge of City on four separate occasions; a 1-1 draw at Villa Park, City’s Carabao Cup win against Chelsea in November, the 4-2 home win over Spurs, and finally, the Blues’ last home league game which saw them run out 2-0 victors against Newcastle United.

Regarding cards, Hooper has refereed a total of 20 Premier League games this season and dished out 63 yellows – an average of 3.15 per game. However, the 40-year-old is yet to give anyone their marching orders.

Hooper has refereed City just six times, with the Premier League champions coming out on top four times and sharing points twice.

Chasing Manchester City has broken Liverpool - fixing the Reds will be Jurgen Klopp’s toughest task ever - Neil Jones - Goal

The Reds still have the same players and still try to do the same things with them. They still look to play the same way, but something has broken with Klopp’s side.

The legs don’t move as quickly, the minds don’t work as fast, and the fear factor has gone, or at least been significantly diminished. Important players suddenly look their age, new ones are yet to reach the same levels of consistency as the old ones, and the general mood around the club is one of doom and gloom, when for so long it has been defiance, optimism and certainty.

This season, Liverpool have lost eight league games, two more than they did in the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2021-22 campaigns combined. Mohamed Salah has continued scoring, but the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have seen their form dip significantly.

Only goalkeeper Alisson Becker and teenage tyro Stefan Bajcetic, you would say, have really enhanced their reputation, although there is obvious promise in the attacking trio of Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez, all of whom have been recruited in the past 14 months.

Rodri’s Manchester City role shows holding midfielders are key to success - Karen Carney - The Guardian

A defensive midfielder is the heart and spine of the team; they are the core of your body and without that stability you crumble. There are nuances to each player in the role, but they are always integral to any successful side. It is shown by those clubs who haven’t had the season they hoped for. Højbjerg has not been at his best and that has affected Spurs while Liverpool are not the team they were when Fabinho or Georginio Wijnaldum were dominating games.

Defensive midfielders have to see things before they happen in and out of possession. They need to sense danger and be two steps ahead on the ball because they build the blocks by keeping things ticking. I could not sense danger. You can improve your perception, but those who do it best are born with a natural inclination.

In the modern game, a lot of players are comfortable in multiple positions. Centre-backs can play in central midfield and vice versa, full-backs can play on the wing, centre-forwards can drop to be No 10, but being a defensive midfielder is a vocation.

And finally... Vote for Bunny for WSL Player of the Month.


City made it through another month with a 100% record in the league, claiming victories against Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea.

And the Jamaican was at the centre of that success, grabbing five goals across three starts for Gareth Taylor’s side.

She began the month with a hat-trick against Spurs, as City came from behind to move up to second in the WSL.

Another standout performance followed against Brighton, with Shaw’s brace seeing her break Nikita Parris’ record for the most goals by a City women’s player across a single season in the process.

Indeed, the Jamaican’s tally now stands at an astonishing 26 in 24 appearances for 2022/23, while her 15 goals in 16 WSL games means she is also the league’s top scorer.

And although she couldn’t add to her total in a 2-0 victory over title rivals Chelsea in our final March encounter, the forward’s tireless pressing from the front and typically clever link play was essential to helping City over the line.

There you have it. Stay with Bitter and bLue all weekend long fo all the action. Sky Blue News returns Monday.