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Sky Blue News: Pep Presser, Hammers Preview, Squad Fitness, and More...

Wednesday headlines as the Hammers come for a visit.

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Fulham FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images

Manchester City Football Club are set to host West Ham United at the City of Manchester Stadium. The Blues will be looking to once again go top of the Premier League table ahead of Arsenal FC. Sky Blue News has all the latest to get you ready for a crucial match in the run-in.

Fresh twist predicted in Man City’s final league position compared to Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool - gallery - Harry Mail - Manchester World

Manchester City are dreaming of winning the treble this season and are battling with Arsenal for the Premier League title. Pep Guardiola’s side are in fine form at the moment and beat Fulham 2-1 away last time out after goals by striking pair Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.

They are back in action on Wednesday evening at home to West Ham as they look to keep their momentum going ahead of some big games. Using data collected by the FiveThirtyEight website, here is a predicted look at where City are expected to finish in the league at the end of this term...

Pep Talk: “The mental strength will be there in that period, it’s the best period you can live.” - Saul Garcia - Bitter and Blue

Expectations. Pep Guardiola knows them well and in the pre match presser he was well aware of what a period City are living in. He touched on that and much more.

Let’s dive in:

“The mental strength will be there in that period, it’s the best period you can live.

“It’s one month and one more week for sure, then fight for two more weeks.

“We played the last six or seven years in this situation, playing six or seven games in a month how many times?

“A lot. I would say it’s happened a lot of times.

“Now is another opportunity with just six games left (in the league) we have a game, then we have to recover, then go for it (again), that’s all

“I don’t control the results of the other ones, I’m too busy working on what we have to do tomorrow against West Ham,” he said in his pre-match news conference.

Pep Guardiola has one more chance to get Man City plan B right before Real Madrid - Tyrone Marshall - Manchester Evening News

Guardiola hasn’t really got the squad to rotate even if he wanted to but what he will hope to be able to achieve in the two league fixtures at the Etihad this week is getting players some vital rest ahead of the trip to the Bernabeu next week.

The Catalan has been using his bench more regularly of late and he would love to be in a position to make five subs against both West Ham and Leeds.

Key front-line players such as Haaland and Jack Grealish might benefit from a breather in one or both of these games. The same is definitely true of Rodri, who has played more minutes than any other City player this season. Kalvin Phillips is unlikely to be starting games but he could come on if these fixtures look won by the hour mark.

Preview: Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs West Ham United - Adam Howarth - City Report

West Ham have enjoyed a fruitful past few seasons under David Moyes, with the Scotsman having defied the odds to lead the Hammers to consecutive European semi-finals.

After falling short in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals last term, the Irons made some ambitious moves in the summer transfer window, recruiting the likes of Lucas Paqueta, Gianluca Scamacca and Naif Aguerd.

However, the east London club are suffering from something of a European burnout, having been sucked into a relegation dogfight for the 2022-23 campaign.

Despite some solid form before the World Cup break, inconsistency crept in towards the start of the calendar year, and four-goal defeats to Brighton and Newcastle in March and April left them looking very vulnerable.

Man City get stunning final chance to reunite Lionel Messi with Pep Guardiola as PSG tensions reach their climax - James Holland - TEAMtalk

Messi was linked with a move to the Etihad, where he would reunite with Pep Guardiola, after it emerged Barcelona were unable to keep him in summer 2021. However, it was PSG who won the race for the Argentine icon, signing him on a two-year contract with the option of a further year.

After enduring a slow first season in the French capital, Messi has really got firing this campaign. He has notched 20 goals and 19 assists in 37 appearances and has worked brilliantly alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

But Messi has never felt as comfortable with PSG as he did at Barca. Following PSG’s Champions League exit to Bayern Munich, he was booed by his own supporters.

The 35-year-old attacker is also thought to miss the city of Barcelona. His children were all born there and a lot of his friends live in the city.

Messi’s two-year deal with PSG is set to expire in the summer. As mentioned previously, the Ligue 1 side have the option to extend it by a year, but as per French newspaper L’Equipe, that will not be happening.

Pep Guardiola delivers major update on Kevin De Bruyne and Nathan Ake injury latest - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

The City boss has been looking ahead to his side’s next Premier League contest, as they play hosts to West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, hoping to retain their spot as league leaders.

Manchester City moved ahead of Arsenal into to first position courtesy of a 1-2 win over Fulham on Sunday afternoon, with goals coming from Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez at Craven Cottage.

However, most of the pre-match conversation was dominated by the fitness of club vice-captain and mainstay attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who did not travel with the rest of the team due to a fitness issue.

Speaking prior to kick-off in London, Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports on the subject of Kevin De Bruyne, “He doesn’t feel good. He has some injury and could not travel. (Timescale for a return?) No, I don’t know.”

Now, addressing the media at the City Football Academy ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League clash with West Ham, Pep Guardiola has delivered a further update on the fitness of the Belgian midfielder, as well as Nathan Ake – who has now returned to first-team training.

“Nathan (Ake) yesterday trained with us, he feels good,” opened Pep Guardiola.

“Kevin (De Bruyne) has started to move, but didn’t train with the team. We have training in a few hours and we will see.

“Yeah (Nathan Ake will be available vs West Ham). Training at 4 o’clock (to assess Kevin De Bruyne’s fitness).”

And finally... He’s just a Norse lad.


One thing Alf Ingve Berntsen insisted on during his days as a youth coach at Bryne FK, was the follow three simple rules - be on time, always do your best and behave.

He also wanted the boys in his group to be good people above all else and in that respect, he couldn’t be happier.

A talented footballer himself, his career was ended by injury aged 17 and he moved into coaching as a result.

He has been the manager of several Norwegian senior sides with Figgjo IL, Klepp IL, Bryne FK and Frøyland IL all on his CV, but it is his eight years as Erling Haaland’s youth coach that he has perhaps become best known for over the past few years.

Now 58, Berntsen lectures around Norway about grassroots football and is a mentor for youth coaches at the Norwegian FA.

His ties to the Haaland family go back several decades.

“Bryne, as a place, is not exactly the size of London so when Alfie and his family moved back from Leeds, I already knew them quite well,” said Berntsen.

“I’ve known about Erling since he was three or four years-old and with Bryne being such a small place, it’s fair to say everybody knows everybody.

There you have it. Stay with Bitter and Blue all match day long, and follow along on Twitter with @BitterandBlue1. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more of the latest headlines.