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Sky Blue News: City draw, Cityzen Enciso?, Injury Updates, and More...

Headlines going down on a Thursday.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

Manchester City drew away with Brighton & Hove Albion. Each side got a goal in what was one of the better matches of football you could expect. Both clubs got what they were looking for as City were able to balance rest with staying sharp, and the Seagulls locked in their place in the Europa League. Sky Blue News has all the latest form the match at the seaside.

Roberto De Zerbi: Brighton boss says Pep Guardiola inspired him to become a coach after draw with Man City books Europa League spot - Sky Sports

Guardiola lavished praise on his opposite number in the build-up to the game at the Amex Stadium, describing the 43-year-old Italian, who has guided Brighton into next year’s Europa League, as “one of the most influential managers” of the last 20 years.

De Zerbi responded after the pair had gone head to head on the south coast, where Julio Enciso’s stunning goal cancelled out Phil Foden’s opener in a frenetic game, and said he still regards the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich as the world’s best.

“I became a coach because of him,” he said to Sky Sports. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but I became a coach for him because I loved his Barcelona and I studied him a lot.

“I don’t love to copy anybody, but I took [things from him] when I started to be a coach, and before, also, when I finished as a player. Pep is still No 1.”

Match Report: Manchester City Hold Brighton - Manc Pete - Bitter and Blue

Brighton had already qualified for a place in Europe for the first time, but a point would guarantee them a spot in next season’s Europa League ahead of Aston Villa. The match was billed as an entertaining battle between two attack-minded teams and those assumptions weren’t wrong as both teams allowed free-flowing football on a warm evening on the south coast.

Both teams had chances to score before Foden’s opener, with Erling Haaland guilty of missing two opportunities that he would generally put away. A header at the far post when completely unmarked soared over the bar, while home keeper Jason Steele saved from the Norwegian with his feet.

Danny Welbeck crashed a free-kick against the bar before Haaland broke the offside trap to set up the opener. Released by Riyad Mahrez, Haaland charged forward with only the keeper to beat, and attempted to go around Steel, who was well out of his goal. Foden offered an alternative supply route and, fed by Haaland the Stockport blue took a touch and squeezed his shot between two Brighton defenders.

The Seagulls thought they’d levelled six minutes later when Kaoru Mitoma bundled the ball home, however, VAR determined he’d used him arm to knock the ball over the line. But the home side weren’t to be denied, and Enciso hit a magical strike to bring parity to the scoreline.

The Erling Haaland joke some Man City fans may have missed in new chip shop mural - Michael Plant - Manchester World

It was a day of celebration for supporters at the weekend as they saw their side crowned Premier League champions for a third year in a row and, after the 1-0 victory over Chelsea, captain Ilkay Gundogan proudly lifted the trophy on the pitch. Most fans stayed late on a sunny Manchester afternoon to see the stars parade the piece of silverware around the stadium, while some in attendance sported the club’s new 2023/24 home jersey that was unveiled last week.

As part of kit release, City and Puma commissioned a temporary mural that was painted on the wall of the takeaway across the road from the Etihad and features Ederson, Esme Morgan and Jack Grealish eating fish and chips,. However, what fans may have missed is the Erling Haaland canvas on the side of the stadium which has a hidden joke.

“The idea is Haaland grabbing chips from Esme Morgan,” Danny Lennon, City’s creative design lead, told ManchesterWorld. “I looked over as I was making my way to my seat for the Chelsea match and I saw people looking. I was thinking ‘they’ve seen it, they’ve got it’.

Danny, a City fan from south Manchester, came up with the concept after he was approached with the idea of using street art to promote the new jersey. “When I saw the angle of the photo showing the chip shop and the side of the stadium, I couldn’t stop staring at the stadium and I quickly drew a sketch onto a white board and showed how they could interact with each other,” he explained.

Julio Enciso justifies the hype with thunderbolt amid Man City transfer speculation - George Hodgson - Manchester Evening News

Enciso’s moment of mass destruction was the pick of it all - devastating technique which left Stefan Ortega at full stretch but ultimately hopeless. First on the night for duels won, pressures and final third pressures - the relentless number 20 justified the hype around himself along with the Seagulls as a forward-thinking football club.

And on it, Brighton went toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s side - who were left to rue a second-half VAR call which denied Erling Haaland a late winner in front of the travelling City faithful. Roberto De Zerbi received the ultimate praise from Guardiola leading into the game and City went at Brighton with the hosts’ own game - inviting pressure in their own third before going long, back and eventually through. It was that method which led to Phil Foden’s opener mid-way through the first half.

City had to settle for a draw in the end but there were smiles come full time from Guardiola - who you can imagine will have enjoyed every second of his side’s midweek test, against a brave Brighton who more than played there part and continue to impress. City took a point back up the road on paper, but much more than that you sense - ahead of two mammoth finals.

As for the 19-year-old who denied them of all three at the AMEX, De Zerbi expressed his belief post-match that Brighton is the best place for him to keep improving. Time will ultimately tell whether City and Guardiola have something to say about that.

Manchester City join race to sign Jules Kounde - Kashav Awasty - The Hard Tackle

Jules Kounde would have hoped to be the long-term successor to Gerard Pique when he joined Barcelona from Sevilla last summer. But Barcelona’s right-back woes have forced Xavi Hernandez to utilise the 24-year-old as a makeshift right-back. And while he has excelled in the role, he is not content with the situation.

The French international wants to play as a centre-back next season and is frustrated with reprising the right-back role. Meanwhile, Kounde’s market value has stagnated at €60 million. But the player’s situation has captured the attention of several high-profile clubs, including Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United.

The Barcelona defender has been on Manchester City’s radar for a long time. And the Premier League champions have made previous attempts to secure Kounde’s services, albeit to no avail. But Manchester City’s continued interest in the Frenchman is understandable, considering Aymeric Laporte faces an uncertain future at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola and Rodri deliver major fitness updates on John Stones and Phil Foden following injury concerns - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

With the English top-flight season done and dusted with two games to spare, Pep Guardiola has had the rare opportunity to rest and rotate his squad ahead of the two cup finals that loom for Manchester City in the early weeks of June.

Nevertheless, the Catalan coach is having to find the right balance between ensuring rhythm and tempo is maintained, whilst also handing ample rest to his key stars ahead of two matches that could have a decisive say on the history of Manchester City.

As such, a largely strong side was fielded at the Amex Stadium – despite five first-team players being absent due to a lack of fitness following the weekend’s win over Chelsea – but that came at a cost.

Phil Foden was replaced early in the second-half with Cole Palmer coming on in his place, whilst John Stones went down midway through the latter 45 minutes, leaving many Manchester City supporters concerned over their fitness at such a crucial stage of the season.

Speaking after the game however, Pep Guardiola somewhat reassured fans by offering details on the fitness of the duo, as he explained, “Phil (Foden) had a knock in the first half, problems in the leg, and the doctor told me it was dangerous and we didn’t take a risk.

And finally... It was apparently one hell of a Sunday night in Manchester for the Cityzens.

‘We drank all the alcohol in Manchester!’ - Pep Guardiola praises Man City for professionalism in Brighton draw after boozy title celebrations - Richard Martin - Goal

WHAT HAPPENED? The City manager revealed his players had partied long into the night after being crowned Premier League champions on the weekend. But he was impressed with how they recovered from their drunken celebrations in three days to play out a hugely entertaining 1-1 draw with Brighton.

WHAT THEY SAID: “Exceptional game, congratulations to Brighton for deserved qualification for the Europa League officially and the game we played,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “I think we drunk all the alcohol in Manchester and 40 hours later we behaved and we showed the reason we are the champions. Against that team, doing what they have done with or without the ball, I didn’t see one drop of water in our intensity or our idea. That’s why show me again what we have done this season because we have won it on the pitch nobody gave us absolutely anything.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Phil Foden gave City the lead but a sensational long-range goal from Julio Enciso drew Brighton level. Erling Haaland thought he had restored City’s advantage late in the game with a header but the goal was ruled out for a foul by the Norwegian on Levi Colwill. Guardiola was booked for complaining about the decision and also criticised it after the game. “If it’s a foul then the 25 actions on the long balls to Erling must be foul,” he added. “He receives foul every single time from central defenders.”

There you have it. Stay with Bitter and Blue as we build to the final day of the Premier League season against Brentford. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.