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Gundogan: Why August schedule can help City

FOCUSED: Ilkay Gundogan wants City to capitalise on increased training time in August.

FOCUSED: Ilkay Gundogan wants City to capitalise on increased training time in August.

Ilkay Gundogan says Manchester City must take advantage of the August fixture schedule to ensure we hit top form once the Champions League and Carabao Cup begin in September.

With an absence of knockout competitions, the first month of the season is kinder to City, who will play just one game a week up to the international break.

The German midfielder believes we must grasp the opportunity to fine tune our approach with the increased training sessions that midweek cup competitions prevent later in the campaign.

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“We are looking forward to the start of the season,” he said.

“We shouldn’t get used to a long break too much because once the Champions League and the Carabao Cup start we will play every three or four days.

“It’s kind of weird that for the next three or four weeks we will play just one game a week.

“That gives us time to have good training sessions, which especially at this point, is worth a lot.

“I am quite sure we’ll be well prepared, and we’ll start the season as we did last season.”

The new campaign could not have started better, as City claimed a second successive Community Shield after a penalty shootout win over Liverpool.

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It was an end to end and often physical encounter at Wembley, which dispelled any claims that the annual curtain raiser was merely a friendly.

Such suggestions Gundogan can’t agree with. Not when there is a trophy on the line.

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“I never felt like it was a friendly, even last year,” explained the 28-year-old.

“Even in my time in Germany when we played in the Supercup with Dortmund, it never felt like a friendly because there was always a trophy included and if a trophy is included then it’s a competition.

“Once we are part of a competition we are going to try and play our best and try to win.

“That’s what we did, and we won’t stop doing that.”

The performance of both teams at Wembley indicated little has changed in respect of the fine margins that separated them last season.

City dominated the early proceedings, but Liverpool finished strongly and Gundogan felt the game reinforced that the excitement of last year’s rivalry could well resume.

“I definitely expect the level won’t drop,” he added.

“It’s going to increase over the next two weeks. We are not through our preparations. Both teams were not at 100%.

“The game really showed it’s tight, that both teams have a lot of quality and I think there will be a couple of more competitors for the top spot in the Premier League.

“So, it’s going to be a very exciting.”

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