London - Yaya Toure has challenged Manchester City to put a
smile back on Pep Guardiola's face with a dominant display in Friday's FA Cup
third-round clash at West Ham.
Guardiola was in a tetchy mood following City's 2-1 win over
Burnley on Monday as he grumbled about the way officials treat his team and
embarked on a series of fractious post-match interviews.
Adding to the growing sense that the City boss is struggling
to find his feet in English football, in a recent interview with NBC he said he
may not stay in management for much longer than his current contract.
Although Guardiola won trophies and plaudits by the
bucketload during his spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, managing those
clubs comes with a guarantee of success to a certain degree.
In contrast, the more cut-throat Premier League, where
Leicester's title triumph last season showcased a strength in depth missing in
Spain and Germany, can sap a manager's vim.
While it is far too soon to say Guardiola's philosophy won't
succeed in England, he certainly looks frazzled and could do with City --
lagging well behind Chelsea in the title race -- recapturing the swashbuckling
spirit that saw them mark his arrival with a long winning streak.
City midfielder Toure, back in favour after clashing with
Guardiola earlier this season, believes the solution is to play with more
passion at critical moments.
"At the moment we are in not in our best form but we
have to be able to deliver," Toure said.
"City have always been a team who fight to the end to
win a trophy and at the moment we are not happy with the position in the
league. We have to fight.
"We are starting the second half of the season now and
I think we will have to be almost perfect.
"We'll have to win all the games when we play the top
four. The lads, the fans, the manager, we are all understanding that and we
will try to do our best to get there."
Also read: ‘I have always refused alcohol’, banned Toure laments
- Confidence -
Guardiola's first taste of the FA Cup comes at the London
Stadium, where inconsistent West Ham will hope to bounce back from successive
league defeats against Leicester and Manchester United.
Hammers goalkeeper Darren Randolph is confident his team's
gritty effort against United following Sofiane Feghouli's controversial red card,
which has since been rescinded, offers hope.
"We battled on for most of the game with 10 men, still
creating chances, so we take confidence from that," Randolph said.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will also be competing in the
FA Cup for the first time when the Premier League leaders take on third-tier
Peterborough at Stamford Bridge, while title rivals Liverpool face fourth-tier
Plymouth at Anfield.
Holders Manchester United will be aiming for their eighth
successive victory in all competitions when they host Championship promotion
Arsenal, who lifted the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015, travel to
second-tier Preston looking for a more complete performance after they were
forced to fight back from 3-0 down in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Bournemouth on
Among the non-league minnows aiming to cause a surprise are
Eastleigh, who face second-tier Brentford, Barrow, at home to third-tier
Rochdale, and Sutton, who entertain third-tier AFC Wimbledon.
Third round fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated):
West Ham v Manchester City (1955 GMT)
Accrington v Luton, Barrow v Rochdale, Birmingham v
Newcastle, Blackpool v Barnsley, Bolton v Crystal Palace, Brentford v
Eastleigh, Brighton v Milton Keynes Dons, Bristol City v Fleetwood, Everton v
Leicester, Huddersfield v Port Vale, Hull v Swansea, Ipswich v Lincoln,
Manchester United v Reading (1230 GMT), Millwall v Bournemouth, Norwich v
Southampton, Preston v Arsenal (1730 GMT), QPR v Blackburn, Rotherham v Oxford,
Stoke v Wolves, Sunderland v Burnley, Sutton v AFC Wimbledon, Watford v Burton,
West Brom v Derby, Wigan v Nottingham Forest, Wycombe v Stourbridge
Cardiff v Fulham (1130 GMT), Chelsea v Peterborough,
Liverpool v Plymouth (1330 GMT), Middlesbrough v Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham
v Aston Villa (1600 GMT)
Cambridge v Leeds (1945 GMT)
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