Mens Team

Pep: Perfect start to toughest stretch of season

PEP TALK: The boss says City face a tough few weeks after beating Oxford in the Carabao Cup
Pep Guardiola says our Carabao Cup win over Oxford was the perfect tonic ahead of our toughest run of fixtures so far this season.

City’s 3-1 win at the Kassam Stadium was the first of six games in 18 days – including two in less than 48 hours.

It’s a gruelling schedule but Guardiola says he wouldn’t want it any other way and praised his side for making it through to the last four of the Carabao Cup for the third-successive season where we will face Manchester United over two legs. 

“I’m pleased with everything,” he said moments after the full-time whistle. “We have a lot of games - we start six games in 18 days. It’s tough.

“The competition is tough now - four good semi-final teams and we are delighted again to be in this position.”

READ: Match Report | Oxford 1-3 City

READ: City learn semi-final opponents 

It wasn’t an easy night for City against an Oxford side who produced a stirring second-half display.

They created 18 chances – more than any other team we've faced this season – but our young backline stood strong to confirm our passage into the last four. 

Guardiola was full of praise for the League One outfit afterwards, admitting their direct style gave us plenty of problems. 

“It means they are good," he said. "We suffered a lot in the second half in the period after going ahead. And in the last minutes, too.

"They play the long balls from throw ins and corners and we struggled in those positions. But it’sokay, we knew it before we came here.”

WATCH: Harwood-Bellis: 'We did what we needed to do'

It was Raheem Sterling’s second-half double that proved crucial, after Matty Taylor had cancelled out Joao Cancelo's first-half opener seconds after the re-start.

It means Sterling now has 18 for the season in all competitions, a remarkable return from a player who operates principally in wide areas. 

Guardiola says he doesn't care where the goals come from, but admitted he was happy to see Sterling, a player readily available for selection, continue his fine run of goalscoring form. 

"It doesn't matter who scores," he said. "We are happy for him for the two goals.

"It’s a guy who likes to play and is fit all the time so it’s good for him he scores two."

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