MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 13:17:35

Guardiola insists Man City can challenge Liverpool despite busy schedule

Guardiola insists Man City can challenge Liverpool despite busy schedule
© Reuters
The Spaniard's side are involved in four competitions and trail Jurgen Klopp's team by four points in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City have the strength and quality needed to keep pushing Liverpool in the Premier League even as they continue to fight on four fronts.

City will face Burton in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, days after thrashing Rotherham 7-0 to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

But Liverpool, who sit four points clear of City, have only the league and Champions League to worry about after a much-weakened side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves on Monday.

"If everyone is fit and not injured we can cope with it," Guardiola said.

"The problem is if you have 10 injured players, it's almost impossible. When everyone is fit, it's better. Without that competition, if we had just one competition to play in, I could play with the same 11 or same 12.

"Now everyone is involved. the players don't know who will play against Burton. Then after four days we have another final at home to Wolves."

And though his side could face as many as 65 fixtures if they went all the way in the cups, Guardiola said he would rather be fighting on multiple fronts as he believes momentum can apply across all competitions.

"I prefer it, definitely," he said. "I like to be in the four competitions as far as possible. When Wigan put us out of the FA Cup last season I was sad. But since I arrived, the first season in the Carabao Cup we played against United and played with a lot of young players, the same the second season, the same the third season, that's what has happened.

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne was on duty as Manchester City eased past Rotherham in the FA Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

"I take the cups seriously. Against Rotherham, for example, we played with nine players who didn't play against Liverpool and the nine were a good selection. It was perfect for the rhythm for Kevin (De Bruyne), (Ilkay) Gundogan, Nico (Otamendi), Kyle (Walker) – perfect."

Wednesday's game will be an unfamiliar challenge for Guardiola, who admitted he had never seen any footage of Burton in action until Tuesday morning. But City fell foul of League One opposition last season when Wigan knocked them out of the FA Cup so Guardiola knows not to be complacent.

"Tomorrow is different, it is two games in the cup, Wigan was one game. But we had experience at Bristol City in the semi-final last time when we were 1-1, 2-1 in the last minute.

"When you arrive in the semi-final stage first you have to respect the opponents and try to know them because we don't know them.

"Yesterday I never watched one game, today I watched one and this afternoon I will see another with my analyst. See exactly what they are and prepare to get a good result. Try to get to Wembley.

Vincent Kompany
Manchester City are in talks with Vincent Kompany over extending his contract (Richard Sellers/PA)

"When big clubs have a chance to win a final they don't have doubts. My experience from previous clubs, when you have chance to reach a final you take it."

Guardiola revealed conversations are ongoing regarding the possibility of extending Vincent Kompany's contract. The club captain's existing deal expires in the summer, when the Belgian is also due a testimonial after more than a decade with the club.

"We are considering it, we are talking about that," Guardiola said of a possible new deal.

"I would like it. He's our captain. Eleven years here. We saw in the last two games the huge quality and personality he has to play. The only problem with Vincent is one – his injury problems.

"One-against-one absolutely we are better with Vincent. Every central defender has his own quality but there's no doubt Vincent has something special with his charisma, winning the duels. It's incredible. He's one of the best central defenders I've ever seen. The problem is whether he's fit."


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Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough pictured on December 18, 2018
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Clough urges Burton to savour experience as they chase Man City upset
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