Pep Guardiola fears Manchester City’s 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea could prompt a Wembley backlash in Sunday’s EFL Cup final.
Sergio Aguero hit a hat-trick as the reigning Premier League champions ran riot at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month.
City are also aiming to retain the EFL Cup, which they won with a 3-0 victory over Arsenal last term, but Guardiola feels the motivation for revenge among Maurizio Sarri’s under-fire squad will be strong.
“In that moment I was so happy we beat them 6-0. At this moment today, I would prefer not to have won 6-0 against Chelsea,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“I don’t like to play in a short period of time with one team when you beat them before, I don’t like it too much. In part for us, in part for the opponent.
“They are incredible professional players, they are proud and they will do extra.
“When we lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge [in December] we could not accept the defeat again here at home.
“It is what it is. We are going to face it mentally as well as possible, play the final and improve the type of games we have to play when we are in finals.”
What an incredible result!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) 10 February 2019
A 2-0 reverse against Manchester United compounded matters for Guardiola’s friend and counterpart Sarri, with speculation mounting that the former Napoli boss’ job is on the line.
Parallels have been drawn between Chelsea’s woes and Guardiola’s uneven first campaign in Manchester, but the Catalan feels he benefits from boardroom support denied to Sarri and his predecessors, such as Antonio Conte.
“The situation, I think is a little bit different. In my first year the club never doubted me,” he said.
“It was never released in the media that the people are going to sack me if I lose this game or another game. It never happened.
“It surprised me when Conte won the title and they lose one or two games at the start of the next season and people said he was going to be sacked. The situation is completely different.
“My opinion about Sarri and his teams is always high. I reviewed the game against us and people don’t believe me but they did incredible things.
“They made mistakes on the first and third goal and Sergio scored an incredible goal. Then it is difficult for the manger and the team, but they did many, many good things.
“I spoke with my staff and they had the same opinion. We were so clinical in that game, the first four or five times we arrived we scored goals.”
Chelsea’s preparations for Sunday’s showpiece were unhelpfully hit by news FIFA have punished the club with a two-window ban on registering new players after they contravened rules relating to the signing of youth footballers.
“In the future, I don’t know [what the impact will be] because I am not at Chelsea,” Guardiola added. “In terms of the game, not any impact for the players.
“They will be focused and the manger will be focused to win the game against us.”
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