West Ham V Man City at Olympic Stadium : Match Preview

31 January 2017
West Ham V Man City - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Pep Guardiola defends Fernandinho as Manchester City midfielder returns from ban

Pep Guardiola insists Fernandinho is not an aggressive player as the Manchester City midfielder prepares to return from his third ban of the season.

The Brazilian has missed City's last four games, and eight in total this term, after being sent off three times.

The first of those dismissals came after an innocuous second booking against Borussia Monchengladbach but he then grabbed Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas by the throat and made a wild challenge on Burnley's Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Having become a father for the second time during his enforced lay-off, the 31-year-old is now set to return to action as City travel to West Ham in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Guardiola said: "He's not an aggressive player. 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 at the London Stadium after missing Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round victory at Crystal Palace with a knock.

Guardiola said: "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, a match which proved to be Dimitri Payet's final appearance for the London club.

The Frenchman has now joined Marseille after a long dispute with the Hammers but Guardiola would not comment on how Slaven Bilic's men might fare without the playmaker.

He said: "Of course he is a top player, an exceptional player. West Ham last season played amazing and Payet helped a lot to achieve the Europa League, but what happened internally is none of my business.

"I want to be correct about the situation in terms of the players and the club."

Slaven Bilic insists Payet does not owe West Ham fans an apology.

The France international finally completed the protracted and controversial B#25million transfer on Sunday evening.

Yet rather than condemn Payet's actions, Bilic has thanked the 29-year-old - one of the stars of the Premier League last season - for his efforts in claret and blue.

"Does he owe an apology? No. I wouldn't say that," said the West Ham boss.

"Players are always moving and I'm not going that deep into what he should say or shouldn't. He is gone, he went home, that was his wish and I will not forget how good he was for us.

"He was brilliant. I was so happy and proud, with my team, my staff, to help him achieve what he did. What he achieved with us was a great story for West Ham, for the Premier League and for France.

"I ain't going to forget it just because he moved. I really wish him well."