Manuel Pellegrini

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Guardiola, Pellegrini react to VAR fest on Opening Day

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Manchester City’s 5-0 blowout of West Ham United saw a masterclass from Raheem Sterling, but much of the post-game focus revolved around VAR.

Goals were overturned, a red card was not given, and a penalty withstood video review as referee Mike Dean was largely relegated to his ear piece.

[ RECAP: West Ham 0-5 Man City ]

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, at least on the day, chose to stay positive about the new world of Premier League football with VAR.

From the BBC:

“It is not easy to get used to it, but I think the result will be fairer if we use it in the right moments. Football is so fast today it is impossible for referees to see all. It will improve football.”

The London Stadium came alive when Man City’s third goal was overturned by VAR, the supporters finding new belief in a 2-0 score line, and Guardiola said there are sure to be plenty of new experiences on account of the technology.

“You have to be mentally strong when VAR is not on our side,” Guardiola said. “You think at 0-3 the game is almost over but at 0-2, the game is completely different. You have to be calm and be strong, it is going to change the dynamic not just for the team but for the spectators. It will be a good lesson for our future.”

Arnautovic being forced out of West Ham United

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Bold prediction: Soon enough, we’ll be hearing that Marko Arnautovic either wants out of China, or China wants Marko Arnautovic off its land.

The combustible but powerful striker is set to depart West Ham United for Shanghai SIPG to the tune of $28.2 million, according to reports, with the majority of the club reportedly sick of his “will he or won’t he?” antics.

[ MORE: Jagielka staying in PL ]

Arnautovic engineered a move from Stoke City to West Ham, then talked his way into an improved contract with the Irons before using his brother as a mouthpiece in a bid to move abroad.

Shanghai offered more than $40 million in January, but West Ham instead gave Arnautovic an improved deal. Now having reaped those rewards for a half-year, Arnautovic will leave London having cost his team those wages and nearly $12 million in fees.

Pablo Zabaleta spoke out against the saga in January, and clearly he’d know how long-time pal and current West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini felt about it.

The 30-year-old has hit double-digit goals in three of his last four Premier League seasons, including 10 in just 28 appearances in 2018-19.

He has four goals in four Austria caps in 2019, and 24 in 81 overall.

Pellegrini ready for VAR after West Ham draw Leicester City

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West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini knows his side played well enough for three points in its 2-2 draw with Leicester City, but also is well aware that the Irons should’ve had three goals before the Foxes’ nabbed their second equalizer of Saturday’s match at the London Stadium.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-2 Leicester ]

Lucas Perez’s would-be brace wouldn’t stand when the linesman’s flag was raised for what should’ve been an insurance goal for the hosts, who were very good on the day.

But Leicester would score through Harvey Barnes in stoppage time to eke out a point in London.

“I think we deserved more than a draw,” Pellegrini said.

“We should have been leading 3-1 but it was a mistake of the linesman. Yes, I’ve seen the goal again and he was one meter onside. There is nothing you can do about that. Next season when we have VAR it can be more fair.”

Still two switched-off moments cost the Irons a win nearly as much as the linesman’s flag.

“We generally played well but you cannot concede two goals.”

Premier League preview: West Ham v. Leicester City

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  • Leicester City has lost just once in its last 9 meetings with West Ham
  • West Ham has just 5 PL clean sheets this season
  • Leicester City has not won 3 straight road matches since April 2016

Leicester City continues its push for a place in Europe as the Foxes travel to London to take on West Ham United live at 10:00 a.m. ET on CNBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

The Foxes sit in seventh place in the Premier League table, and while they’re unable to catch Manchester United in sixth sitting 17 points back, they still have a crack at a place in the Europa League should Watford fail to win the FA Cup. It’s a hotly contested race, with Wolverhampton Wanderers level on points with Leicester at 47, while Everton and Watford are both a point back with 46.

As a boost, Leicester City could have Marc Albrighton back from a long-term hamstring injury that has kept him out for two months, although it’s unlikely he would start right away after being out for so long. The 29-year-old was a regular in the Leicester lineup before his injury, appearing in all but two of the club’s Premier League matches until his injury in early February.

For the Hammers, they sit in 11th position and have work to do to reach the top half of the table, behind Watford and Everton by four points. Jack Wilshere could find his way back from an ankle injury, although the club is reportedly being careful with his return. They are missing a trio of important attacking players, with Manuel Lanzini, Javier Hernandez, and Samir Nasri all likely out with injury problems.

What they’re saying

West Ham manager on his season to this point: “It’s not an easy answer because there are two sides to it. Yes, I’m happy because it is a solid season compared to the last one. Having so many important players injured for so long is not easy. But always I feel we can do better.”

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers on a possible European place: “We’re not really thinking about that. We want to finish as high as we can and do our very best. It’s important we continue to work and prepare for next season while finishing as strongly as possible.”

Prediction

Leicester City has fared well against West Ham in the past, and while this is a road trip for the Foxes, it has far more importance to the visitors than the home side, who have already pretty much packed up shop for the season. With Leicester City needing this match much more, and West Ham missing a number of attacking players, the Foxes should come away with it 2-1, returning home with a vital three points away from home.

Pellegrini: Wilshere returning to West Ham lineup soon

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Jack Wilshere has made just five appearances for West Ham United this season, but the number six is coming soon.

The Hammers have very slim hopes for seventh place, but also need to restore some positive vibes at the end of a tough stretch which includes losses to to Everton, Manchester United, and Chelsea.

[ UCL RECAPS: Man City-Spurs | Porto-Liverpool ]

Now it’s Leicester City, a direct rival at mid-table, and Manuel Pellegrini is quick to remind us that West Ham has had plenty of obstacles in the form of injury as he looks to build a European contender. From Sky Sports:

“He’s a midfielder that we need because in that position we have (had) so many times all of them injured. (Andriy) Yarmolenko, Wilshere and Lanzini, so the return for Jack will be a good injection.”

Having played for the U-23s again last week, it sounds like Wilshere may start on Saturday (though Pellegrini says it may take another week).