Belfast Telegraph

City must have pace to keep up with United, warns Pep

Manchester City 4 Port Vale 1

Sorted out: Pep Guardiola knows what to expect from United
Sorted out: Pep Guardiola knows what to expect from United
Port Vale ace Tom Pope

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola expects a repeat game plan from Manchester United this week.

United produced an exhilarating display of counter-attacking football to beat Guardiola's Manchester City 2-1 in last month's derby at the Etihad Stadium.

The rival sides meet again in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford tomorrow and City boss Guardiola feels he knows what to expect.

Guardiola said: "It will be quite similar. Of course at Old Trafford it will be quite different to here, but they are a team that are built to run.

"When they can run they are one of the best teams, and not just in England, I would say, because of the pace they have - (Daniel) James, (Mason) Greenwood, (Anthony) Martial, (Marcus) Rashford and (Jesse) Lingard.

"I have the feeling they are going to run, one or two or three times, or as many times as possible, and we have to reduce the mistakes in the build-up. We have to be prepared for that but we have to play our game."

United tore City's defence apart on numerous occasions on December 7 and could have had much more to show for their efforts than first-half goals from Rashford and Martial.

Nicolas Otamendi did pull one back late on but United held on to inflict a defeat that dealt another blow to City's faltering Premier League title challenge.

Despite that it was a game City dominated in terms of possession and opportunities created and Guardiola did not feel his team did a lot wrong.

Guardiola said: "I am not going to prepare our game just thinking, 'Don't let them run'.

"We have to go there and try to score a goal, play our game and try to get a good result from there.

"Except the first minutes when we conceded three or four times when they could run, the rest of the game I liked a lot the game we played and the chances we created in many situations.

"I would like to play quite similar."

Port Vale's Tom Pope could, meanwhile, be in hot water over his latest social media post with the Football Association seeking answers from the striker.

Hours after making headlines for an eye-catching display in Vale's 4-1 FA Cup defeat by City, the veteran forward took to Twitter to answer a question from a fan.

"We invade Iran then Cuba then North Korea then the Rothchilds are crowned champions of every bank on the planet," he said in response to a Twitter user who asked him to "predict the World War III result".

Pope later deleted the tweet but it's understood the FA are looking into the matter and could launch an investigation depending on the outcome of talks with both the player and his club.

Pope had earlier created a storm on social media after his goal in Saturday's third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium backed up his pre-match bravado in a personal battle with City's John Stones.

Last summer, Pope (34) mocked Stones in a tweet, claiming he would score 40 goals a season if he faced the England defender every week.

All eyes were on their duel and, although Stones largely dealt with him well and had the last laugh as City prevailed, Pope certainly had his moment.

Pope cancelled out Oleksandr Zinchenko's opener with a fine header - his 109th goal for the club, which set a post-war record - and later intercepted a Stones pass to create another chance.

Pope said: "It was only banter and people have dug it up because we've drawn Man City. All of a sudden it's everywhere and people have been on my case about it.

"He's a world-class centre-half. I was just saying he wasn't very physical and that's it. If people think I'm wrong, well, I don't care.

"I spoke to (Benjamin) Mendy and he said all their players had battered him for weeks about it and they got him that wound up about it and then obviously I've scored and he's probably devastated.

"But I was just hoping I got a half chance to try to put one away. The last thing you want to do is get beaten 7-0 after everything that's gone on Twitter, not score and everyone laugh.

"It was nice to shut a few people up to back up what I said but it's water off a duck's back. I wasn't too bothered about it either way."

Pope later tweeted: "I'd just like to say I was completely wrong and bang out of order to say I'd score 40 a season... it's more like 50."

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