Belfast Telegraph

City won't accept a decline in sky-high standards: Gundogan

Man City v Bristol City, Carabao Cup: Etihad Stadium, Tonight, 7.45pm

By Andy Hampson

Ilkay Gundogan has warned Bristol City that Manchester City are in no mood to ease up in the Carabao Cup.

The Germany midfielder wants the runaway Premier League leaders to put one foot firmly in next month's final by taking a clear advantage in tonight's semi-final first leg.

With City needing to juggle the demands of four competitions, squad rotation could be in manager Pep Guardiola's thoughts, but Gundogan insists there will be no loss of intensity.

The 27-year-old said: "They have beaten (Manchester) United, so it will be a tough challenge but we know we are favourites.

"We play the first leg at home, so we want to win that game. We want to win both games. It is up to us. We are strong enough to beat them. It is a semi-final. The good thing is that we have two legs, so even if we don't show our best performance in the first leg, there is a second opportunity.

"It is a challenge. We don't want to wait for the second leg. We want to try to have the perfect result in the first one."

Bristol City, who are fourth in the Sky Bet Championship, have beaten four top-flight sides en route to the last four, including last month's stunning victory over United at Ashton Gate.

Gundogan expects they might adopt a cautious approach in their first meeting but knows Guardiola will be thorough.

He said: "The manager and staff always know what they need to show us. We need to know their style.

"When they come here, we can be quite sure they are going to play very defensively. That is what we all expect. But they can also surprise us. We need to be ready for every single case."

Gundogan is still easing back after a nine-month lay-off following knee surgery in December 2016. He has started 11 games this season and is happy to be part of such an exhilarating side.

He said: "The most special thing is that I am healthy and every game helps me. I am enjoying being on the field at training and on the pitch in games. We all do our bit to continue with all these successful things. We want to continue and then we will see at the end of the season."

  • Alexis Sanchez could be a Manchester City player within a week, according to figures close to the Arsenal striker.

City had been weighing up whether to go for Sanchez or wait to get him on a free at the end of the season, having been denied last summer, but the injury to Gabriel Jesus has persuaded them to act.

On the other side, it is understood that Arsene Wenger is now willing to sanction a sale. A motivating factor in that is said to be dressing-room relationships, with some players known perturbed by Sanchez's attitude.

Arsenal are holding out for £35m, but City are hoping to sign him for less given his contract is up in the summer.

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