Pep Guardiola: First FA Cup tie with Manchester City will be ‘special’

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Pep Guardiola: First FA Cup tie with Manchester City will be ‘special’

Pep Guardiola says he is looking forward to a “special” first FA Cup game in charge of Manchester City in their third-round tie at West Ham.

City face the Hammers at London Stadium on Friday night.

“The cup is special because the lower team can beat the big teams, which is why it is fascinating,” said Guardiola.

“I’m looking forward to it, but of course it’s a Premier League game so it will be tough. We were unlucky in the draw.”

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said the tie is a “big game” for both sides and the fans.

“They will put out a very strong team because it is a big chance for them to get a trophy,” he added.

The game at London Stadium is the first of 32 third-round ties across four days this weekend.

‘Bravo doesn’t need telling’

City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was uncertain in the air in the 2-1 win over Burnley on Monday, failing to deal with a corner that led to Ben Mee’s goal for the visitors.

It was the latest in a series of mistakes by Bravo, but Guardiola said the Chilean – who could come up against West Ham’s powerful striker Andy Carroll on Friday – is adapting to the physical nature of English football.

“I see many goalkeepers who had the same problems as Claudio with these balls and when they fight for them, it’s not only Claudio Bravo,” said the Spaniard.

“He’s intelligent enough, he has experience enough, he was nominated one of the five best keepers in the world, he has experience in Europe, all around the world, in South America, where the intensity of the games is so tough.

“He realised immediately with these sort of balls into the box he had to be careful because it’s special.

“It’s not necessary to read the newspapers or the comments of the coach saying, ‘Go there, be careful here, it’s quite different’. He realised already.”

‘Pep knew what he was in for’

Guardiola also insisted he is not ready to quit management, after he had said he was “arriving at the end” of his career following the Burnley match – when he also gave a testy post-match interview to BBC Sport.

When asked about Guardiola’s conduct, Bilic said: “I saw his interview but maybe he was just tired after a couple of games in three days.

“Maybe after the great start they made some fans or pundits expected them to cruise in the league, especially with Guardiola.

“But it is never easy in any league, especially here. They are not struggling but for their standards, to be however many points from the top is probably not what they expected.

“He’s never worked in a smaller club, he’s never fought against relegation or mid-table or anything different than ‘we have to win the league’.

“Is it Barcelona, is it Bayern, is it Man City? It’s the same. He knew the intensity of the English league, he was well prepared for a difficult season. He didn’t expect anything less than he is getting or has faced so far.”

Zaza’s time is up

Guardiola has said he will play a full-strength side on Friday, while midfielder Soufiane Feghouli is available for West Ham after his red card against Manchester United on Saturday was rescinded.

Bilic also confirmed on-loan striker Simone Zaza will not play for West Ham again to avoid having to pay a £17.1m permanent-deal fee to parent club Juventus, which would have been triggered after 15 first-team appearances.

Zaza was signed on a season-long loan in August for a initial fee of £4.2m but has not scored in the 11 games he has featured in and has not played in the league since November.

“He is still our player until he goes somewhere but mainly because of the situation with his contract he is finished here,” said Bilic.

“Unfortunately we had to judge him on six, seven, eight games which is not a big pattern to judge a player in general.

“He is definitely a good player but like many times in football, it just didn’t happen.”