Sunday 17 December 2017

Guardiola defends Fernandinho after ban

West Ham v Man City, live, BT Sport 1, 7.45

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola:
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: "What happened against Chelsea we have talked about a lot." Photo: PA

Pep Guardiola has sought to defend midfielder Fernandinho, insisting the Brazilian is not an aggressive player as he prepares to return from his third ban of the season.

The midfielder has missed a total of eight games this season, including City's last four, after being shown the red card on three separate occasions.

His first came early in the season following an innocuous second booking against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League.

The Brazilian was then notably dismissed after grabbing Cesc Fabregas by the throat in a heated exchange at the Etihad Stadium in the dying stages of City's clash with Chelsea last December.

A month later Fernandinho was once again sent off following a wild challenge on Burnley's Johanna Berg Gudmundsson. But despite such transgressions, Guardiola claimed that Fernandinho, who returns to action as City travel to West Ham tonigh, is "one of the nicest guys" he had ever met.

"He's not an aggressive player," the Catalan said yesterday . "He's a tough, intense player, like English football is.

"He is one of the nicest guys I've ever met and when you are one of the nicest guys off the pitch, you are on the pitch.

"What happened against Chelsea we have talked about a lot. The other action - I saw many of them here. We accept the ban, we don't complain, but he's not an aggressive guy. He's an honest guy.

"We played a lot of games without him and I am happy he's back. Of course he is important for us."

Top scorer Sergio Aguero is also likely to return for City after missing Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round victory at Crystal Palace with a knock.

Guardiola added: "He's trained with the team, so he is ready."

City beat West Ham 5-0 on their last visit to the London Stadium in the FA Cup last month, a match which proved to be Dimitri Payet's final appearance for the London club.

Irish Independent

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