MX23RW : Wednesday, March 20 10:21:53
Sep 25, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Kassam Stadium
Attendance: 11,956
Oxford UtdOxford United
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Man CityManchester City
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Premier League the priority as Guardiola targets domestic domination

City begin the defence of their Carabao Cup title at Oxford on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola wants to establish Manchester City as the dominant English force after admitting retaining the Premier League title is his primary motivation.

City stormed to their first league crown under Guardiola last season, becoming the first team in the top flight to break the 100-point barrier.

Guardiola, though, is used to sustained success, having won three league titles each at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and sees what his two former clubs and Juventus have achieved in the last decade in their domestic divisions as a yardstick for City.

The Spaniard, who is set to rest several of his stars as they begin the defence of the Carabao Cup at Oxford on Tuesday, said: “The first priority is the Premier League, that is the nicest one.

“When I see, for example, three teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus in 10 years they won seven leagues, they show me they are the best teams.

“We want to be consistent and solid in that competition.

“After in the knockout games we want to improve on our mistakes we had in the past in knock-out games – to be more solid, avoiding mistakes and we’re going to try (to go for) it (in the Carabao Cup).”

City bounced back from their surprise defeat to Lyon in their Champions League opener last week by thrashing lowly Cardiff 5-0 on Saturday to move up to second in the table, two points behind early front-runners Liverpool.

There is likely to be wholesale changes for the trip to Sky Bet League One outfit Oxford, with Guardiola eager to give fringe members of his first-team, such as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Brahim Diaz, an outing.

Zinchenko has not had any game time for City this season while fellow midfielder Diaz’s only involvement came as a substitute in City’s Community Shield win over Chelsea at Wembley last month.

Brazilian defender Danilo could make his return from an ankle injury while the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Riyad Mahrez could feature at the Kassam Stadium, having had limited involvement for City so far in this campaign.

Danilo has not featured for City this season after injuring his ankle at the World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)
Danilo has not featured for City this season after injuring his ankle at the World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)

Guardiola said: “I have been quite clear the guys that are going to play, all of them in the first team.

“Danilo is coming back, Aleks (Zinchenko) and Brahim, so some players are going to play because they need rhythm.

“Nico (Otamendi) is to play. They don’t play too much in the last month so we’re going to play a lot of players that haven’t played.”

Goalkeeper Ederson could be rested (Martin Rickett/PA)
Goalkeeper Ederson could be rested (Martin Rickett/PA)

Guardiola is contemplating whether to hand a City debut to teenage goalkeeper Arijanet Muric, who was recalled from a season-long loan at NAC Breda last month following an injury to back-up custodian Claudio Bravo.

Muric has been on the bench for City’s last five games and will come into the reckoning if Guardiola decides to give first-choice Ederson a rest.

Guardiola added: “I don’t know. I haven’t made a decision. I want to speak with Xabi (Mancisidor, head of goalkeeping).”


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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