Football

Ahead of Chelsea game, Pep has one eye on FA Cup tie with Newcastle

City manager to rotate squad against Chelsea in preparation for FA Cup q-final

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his priority is Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle United rather than delaying Liverpool's coronation as English Premier League champions.

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CHELSEA MAN CITY

Should Liverpool win against Crystal Palace this morning (Singapore time), City will need to beat Chelsea when they travel to Stamford Bridge 24 hours later to keep the title race alive.

The top two then clash in their next league game on July 2.

However, with a 20-point gap between the runaway leaders and City, Guardiola is focused on securing more silverware in the FA Cup and the Champions League come August.

City lead Real Madrid 2-1 from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and will be among the favourites to secure a first European crown in history, should they progress to the quarter-finals, which will be held as one-off games in Lisbon.

"We have to see day-by-day, game-by-game to arrive in the two incredibly important games we have in the next period, which are Newcastle next Sunday and especially Real," said Guardiola yesterday.

City have made an impressive return to English Premier League action with comprehensive victories over Arsenal (3-0) and Burnley (5-0) over the past week, despite Guardiola making eight changes between the games.

"Still the team are not fit for players to play 90 minutes every three days. This is not going to happen," added Guardiola.

"We cannot deny we have one eye in the Newcastle game. It is a final for us."

City have already suffered one significant injury setback since the club's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero underwent knee surgery in Barcelona yesterday.

The Argentine, 32, injured his left knee on Tuesday after a foul by Burnley captain Ben Mee that gave City a penalty.

"Everything went well and I'll soon begin recovery," Aguero tweeted yesterday.

He is expected to miss at least the rest of the domestic season, but could return to play a part in the Champions League.

Guardiola said winger Raheem Sterling or Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus could take Aguero's slot. - AFP

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