Monday 19 February 2018

Sergio Aguero elbow mars West Ham win, with striker likely to miss the Manchester derby

Luke Edwards

Pep Guardiola denied he had seen Sergio Aguero elbow Winston Reid and suggested he did not know how the retrospective disciplinary system works in English football, but he will learn about it quickly as the striker will almost certainly be banned for the Manchester derby.

Guardiola had plenty to be pleased about after his City side produced a breathtaking performance in the first half that outclassed West Ham and sent them on their way to a comfortable win.

However, the one negative was Aguero’s red mist moment and the FA have confirmed they will wait to read the referee’s report before deciding whether to take disciplinary action against him.

If he is found guilty of violent conduct, it will mean a three-match ban, which would force City’s top goalscorer out of the Premier League games against Bournemouth and Swansea, as well as the derby with United.

Referee Andre Marriner appeared not to see the incident, which occurred late in the second half and means the FA will be able to take retrospective action.

Television replays showed Aguero swinging his elbow back into the throat of Reid, who was forced out of the game and West Ham captain, Mark Noble, revealed after the match that the defender could not speak in the dressing room because of the damage done.

“I am new here so I don’t know how it works,” said Guardiola. “I didn’t see it, so I cannot comment. Hopefully nothing happens. If it happens, we accept and we adapt. If we lose him, we lose him. We are still going to play with 11 men.”

Raheem Sterling scored twice for City and will be in Sam Allardyce’s squad for England’s World Cup qualifier Slovakia next week, as will defender John Stones, even though he was taken off as a precaution in the second half.

City have now won five out five under Guardiola and go into the international break top of the table on goals scored ahead of Chelsea and United.

“Of course we can do it better,” Guardiola added. “No doubt about that. But we are just one and a half, two months here and I didn’t expect to play so well in such a short amount of time.

“We played good in the first half, started better than we did at Stoke or Steaua Bucharest. But after the goal from West Ham, which we had never looked like conceding, we controlled our emotions really well.

“We created many chances so we deserved to win clearly with more goals. The performance is good. We still haven’t seen some of the new signings and we need Ilkay (Gundogan) and (Leroy) Sane because the guys who played today cannot play every three days.

“From the beginning, I don’t have any complaints about the behaviour of these guys. Of course we can improve, there is still room for improvement, but we have been playing well and hopefully we can continue doing that.”

West Ham had no complaints about the defeat, although manager Slaven Bilic argued he had positives to take from the second half which offer encouragement moving forward.

“You can’t say City didn’t deserve to win, of course they did.” Bilic explained. “To me, it was a game of two halves. It was not only they were two up very early. Even before they scored, they have two corners and one semi-chance so they were much better than us.

“The ball was played 80% in our part of the pitch. They have top-quality players in every position. We hung on until half time and I didn’t ask my team to turn the game around, just to show their qualities and enthusiasm and we did that.

“With so many players missing, I have to praise this team. We can’t play much better than we did in the second half, especially when you are missing six, seven, eight players and you play against them (City).”

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