Gvardiol leaves door open to Chelsea transfer despite Liverpool admission
Josko Gvardiol has opened up on Chelsea’s pursuit of his signature, seemingly offering renewed hope that a deal could yet come to fruition.
The RB Leipzig centre-back has established a reputation as one of European football’s most sought-after defenders following an excellent World Cup with Croatia, who reached the semi-finals before sealing the bronze medal in Qatar with the help of a goal from the masked Gvardiol in the third-place play-off win over Morocco.
Such consistently strong performances – Lionel Messi nightmare against Argentina in the last four aside – only served to further greatly embellish the fast-rising reputation of the accomplished 20-year-old, who had long been on the radar of the continent’s leading clubs.
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Betfair – Man City vs Chelsea
Man City – 3/10
Draw – 9/2
Chelsea – 15/2
Betfair – To win the FA Cup
Man City – 11/4
Man Utd – 5/1
Arsenal – 13/2
Liverpool – 7/1
Tottenham – 7/1
Brighton – 12/1
Aston Villa – 18/1
Chelsea – 22/1
Leicester – 25/1
Head to head history and results
City have won four meetings with Chelsea in a row without conceding a single goal.
Man City wins: 63
Chelsea wins: 71
John Stones was outstanding for Manchester City in Thursday’s win at Stamford Bridge and Pep Guardiola says he is pleased with the form of the England defender.
Stones has started the last six matches in the Premier League and Guardiola said: “He was maybe my first or second signing when I arrived seven years ago,” he said.
“I know him quite well. I know when he is stable at home, here, happy. What a player. He has had some ups and downs in the past, he has had some injuries but I would say this is part of the process to realise what he needs. He is still young .”
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Man City to qualify: 1/4
Draw in 90 mins: 4/1
Chelsea to qualify: 14/5
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).
Defiant Potter does not fear Chelsea sack
A defiant Graham Potter has said he does not fear sack at Chelsea despite their poor form.
A run of one win in eight Premier League games has left the Blues 10th in the table ahead of today’s third round tie at the Etihad Stadium.
But Potter is confident he retains the support of controlling Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali.
“I don’t think I’d have left my previous job if I didn’t think there was a chance that the owners would give their support,” said Potter. “It’s not like I was jumping at the first opportunity to leave Brighton. I had other opportunities to leave, but this one felt like the right one because of the owners, because of the support that they would give, and that has proved to be the case. They have been fantastic.
“I think they’re absolutely in line with where we’re at, in line with what we want to do. I’m more confident now that we can achieve things than I was when I started the job because I understand the club, the players and understand what’s needed. But, obviously, with the past of Chelsea, with the changes in management, you can see why questions are asked.
“But I’ve been here for four months. If people are going to judge me on those terms and in that time period, when you consider how many games we’ve had and the challenges we’ve had, that’s fine.
“I can give you a counter argument in terms of my career and in terms of what I’ve achieved and the people in the game who would consider my quality. All I know is that I have the total support of the guys above and the players and the staff.”
Chelsea struggled to lay much of a glove on City at the Bridge and lack the squad depth to improve much in the cup.
A 2-0 City win.
Chelsea team news: Blues dealing with injury crisis
Chelsea are battling a multitude of injuries as they prepare to face Manchester City again.
Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling were both forced off early in the 1-0 Premier League loss to City on Thursday, while Mason Mount was ruled out ahead of the game after picking up a knock in training.
N’Golo Kante, Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Armando Broja and Ben Chilwell are also missing in a bleak situation on the fitness front for the club, while goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has now undergone surgery on a fractured finger.
As a result, there are not many options for Graham Potter to change things massively heading into today’s third-round showdown at the Etihad Stadium.
It would not be a surprise to see the Chelsea boss call on his younger players in at least some capacity, such is the level of talent unavailable in his squad at present and impressive performances off the bench on Thursday from the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka, Lewis Hall and Omari Hutchinson.
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Man City team news: Phillips could feature
City are likely to be without Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte after both sat out Thursday’s game against Chelsea with hamstring and back injuries respectively.
Julian Alvarez could start after returning to the squad following his extended break celebrating Argentina’s World Cup success.
Pep Guardiola has said Kalvin Phillips has “improved his level” and may play.
Guardiola criticised Phillips for being overweight on his return from England World Cup duty in December but, ahead of this game, said: “I had the feeling last week that he’s back,” said Guardiola.
“It will maybe be a good lesson for him for the future. I have the feeling that a football player has to be, for 12 months, perfect. Even in holidays you have to be perfect.
“You can enjoy, you can do whatever you want, but you have to be ready because this level is so demanding. You have to play every three days, you have to be fit, and when you’re not fit, nothing.
“In the last week, or days, he improved his level. In the Carabao Cup (quarter-final against Southampton on Wednesday) he is going to play and Sunday we will see.”
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How to watch
TV channel: In the UK, today’s match will be televised live for free on BBC One, with coverage starting at 4pm and the fourth-round draw taking place ahead of kick-off at around 4:05pm.
Live stream: Fans can also catch the game live online via the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website.