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Sky Blue News: City v United, Injury Updates, Kovacic Close?, and More...

Headlines for the first day of June from Bitter and Blue.

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The Manchester City and Manchester United Club Badges Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester City are moving ever closer to Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United. Pep Guardiola and the Manc Blues More than just a derby win in a cup final, this one would be the second piece of City’s treble puzzle. Sky Blue News is here with the latest headlines to help you keep it all sorted.

CITY’S ALL-TIME FA CUP STATS - Jack Mumford - ManCity.com

Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick against Sheffield United in the semi-final was our first ever three-goal haul at Wembley.

It was also the first ever FA Cup semi-final hat-trick at Wembley, and first in the semi-final of the competition overall since Alex Dawson in 1958 (Man Utd against Fulham).

Since his FA Cup debut for the club in 2019, Mahrez has scored more goals in the competition than any other player (11).

He’s scored five so far this season – the last time a City player scored more in a single season was in 1933/34 (Fred Tilson, 9).

We have reached the final with an aggregate score of 17-0 across the five rounds we have competed in so far.

That makes us the first team to reach the FA Cup final without conceding a goal on the way since Everton in 1965-66.

Man City vs Man United: Everything, everywhere all at once in the 2023 FA Cup final - Dom Farrell - The Sporting News

In UK football, there are few battles more fierce than the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland. When Swansea City face Cardiff City in the South Wales derby or Blackburn Rovers play Burnley in the East Lancashire derby, away fans have to travel to their club’s home ground and be bussed in and out of their rival’s territory on safety grounds.

But, in all these instances, animosity is fuelled by distance and otherness. For fans of City and United in Manchester, the local argument hits very differently.

There are blue and red areas of this former industrial powerhouse. You might find a few more City fans towards the centre of town and greater United representation in the suburbs. Alternatively, most City fans are from Stockport and United supporters — like their storied Old Trafford stadium — reside outside the city limits, if you want to go all in on the sniping tall tales from either side.

But the reality is of red and blue rubbing shoulders in offices, call centres, factories, schools, colleges, bars and restaurants every day of the week. You might get staunchly City and United families, but, somewhere along the line, someone will marry into one backing the other side and ruin everything. Fittingly for a city that cherishes its worker bee symbol, Manchester football does a strong line in cross-pollination.

Yaya Toure remembers Man City scaring Sir Alex Ferguson and slapping Manchester United - Simon Bajkowski - Manchester Evening News

Yaya Toure was still basking in the glory of defeating an ‘unbeatable’ Manchester United in the Champions League final when one of his toughest opponents flashed up on his TV.

Carlos Tevez, last seen in Rome trying to stop that glorious Barcelona side with Toure in central defence, was on his way to Manchester City. It was a deal that enraged Sir Alex Ferguson - particularly after the ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster - as much as it delighted the newly-minted Blues, and also caught the attention of a squad as decorated as Barcelona’s.

Toure paid attention to the power dynamic in Manchester when he saw Tevez had signed for United’s closest rivals, and noted how badly Ferguson reacted to the news. A year later, he would join Tevez at the Etihad to end United’s long reign and usher in a decade of extraordinary success for City.

“Tevez was one of the biggest players and to take him from a big rival and bring him to you, you can maybe understand why Ferguson was frustrated and p*****,” he said. “Tevez was incredible in that period.

“I was at Barcelona then but I remember being away at the time and seeing it on Sky and it was a big thing: ‘Tevez switches from United to City’. It was incredible.

Man City receive FA Cup final injury boost as four stars return to training ahead of Man Utd clash - Michael Plant - Manchester World

The Premier League champions were given two days off after Sunday’s loss to Brentford, with Pep Guardiola claiming his players were ‘exhausted’, and John Stones, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Erling Haaland were all unused substitutes at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Meanwhile, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish missed the game altogether. “The guys who are in Manchester, Ruben didn’t train for 10 days, Jack Grealish neither,” Guardiola explained on Sunday.

“After Brighton [last Wednesday] , Kevin felt the same feelings as before weeks ago. They couldn’t play a few games. Not a big issue. I think they will be ready. They have to be ready in the training sessions.”

Thankfully for City, the quartet all were seen in City’s latest training images which were released on the club’s website on Wednesday. All four also appeared to be taking part in the full session, meaning they should be available to face Manchester United on Saturday in the cup final.

Arsenal, Manchester City ‘interested in Wilfried Gnonto’ - Matt Law - Sports Mole

The 19-year-old made the switch to Elland Road from FC Zurich last summer, and he featured on 28 occasions for the Whites during the 2022-23 campaign, scoring four goals and registering four assists in the process.

Gnonto penned a five-year deal with Leeds upon his arrival, but there is currently speculation surrounding his future, with the Whites dropping out of the Premier League.

Sam Allardyce was unable to keep Leeds in England’s top flight, with their relegation being confirmed on the final matchday, and the club are now preparing to play Championship football in 2023-24.

According to Calciomercato, Arsenal and Man City were both impressed by Gnonto during the 2022-23 Premier League season, and the pair are weighing up summer offers.

From reliable sources: Mateo Kovacic moves closer to Manchester City switch - Freddie Pye - City Xtra

Pep Guardiola and those within the Etihad Stadium have long been keen admirers of the now 29 year-old’s talents in the centre of the park, and with there being a need for recruitment in that position this summer, the club have turned towards the Croatian once more.

Kovacic will be entering into his final year of contract at Stamford Bridge next season, and with Chelsea looking to offload this summer, interest from Manchester City is likely to be entertained by those in charge of transfer business.

On Wednesday, a flurry of reports have highlighted a significant development in the process to bring Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City, with talks now having taken place over the possibility of a transfer being finalised in the coming weeks.

And finally... Our man Super Jack has come a long way from his roots.

Jack Grealish: The former Solihull schoolboy on the brink of greatness at Man City - Neil Johnston - BBC Sport

It was only last September that former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness told Talksport that Manchester City’s £100m signing was “a good player, not a great player”.

Even celebrity City fan Noel Gallagher was unconvinced by Grealish at first.

“I’ll be the first to admit, I was at the first Premier League game he played for us, away to Tottenham,” the former Oasis star told BBC Sport.

“I was thinking: ‘Really? Do we need another midfielder on top of Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and everyone else?’ And then that first season, I was like: ‘I don’t know what anyone sees in this guy at all.’”

Since returning from the World Cup, however, Grealish has become almost undroppable for the big games.

There you have it. Bitter and Blue has you covered as City pre for the trip to Wembley. Sky Blue News returns tomorrow with more headlines.