Man City manager Pep Guardiola prepared for pacey Man United
Man City manager expects repeat game plan in semi-final; says Ole's vision taking shape at United
Pep Guardiola says Manchester United are starting to play the way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants them to, as he prepares for a blockbuster League Cup semi-final between the two sides.
City head to Old Trafford for the first leg of the last-four encounter tomorrow morning (Singapore time), having won the competition for the past two seasons.
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Guardiola's side are third in the English Premier League, 13 points ahead of fifth-placed United, but lost 2-1 to their rivals last month as Solskjaer's men produced an exhilarating display of counter-attacking football at the Etihad Stadium.
United had beaten Tottenham Hotspur in similar fashion and by the same scoreline before their win over City, prompting suggestions that Solskjaer was turning things around in the red half of Manchester.
Speaking about the United manager, Pep said: "He is starting to see his team like he wants. The last (league) game against Arsenal they lost, but you see clearly what he wants.
"It is not easy to handle a team at a big, big club, always demanding to be champions in all competitions, but every manager needs time. I have the feeling United have started to play the way he wants."
The Spaniard added that he knows what to expect from their arch-rivals tomorrow.
"(We saw from the 2-1 defeat) how fast they are, how they run on the counter-attack, how solid and aggressive they are," Guardiola said.
"We conceded a few counter-attacks and, in just two or three seconds, they were in the box.
"It will be quite similar. Of course at Old Trafford, it will be quite different to here but they are a team who are built to run.
"When they can run, they are one of the best teams, and not just in England, because of the pace they have - (Daniel) James, (Mason) Greenwood, (Anthony) Martial, (Marcus) Rashford and (Jesse) Lingard.
"I have the feeling they are going to run, one or two or three times, or as many times as possible, and we have to reduce the mistakes in the build-up. We have to be prepared for that, but we have to do our game."
PEP TO STICK WITH OWN PLAN
Despite United's win, City dominated in terms of possession and opportunities created and Guardiola did not feel his team did a lot wrong.
"I am not going to prepare our game just thinking, 'don't let them run'," he said.
"We have to try to score, play our game and try to get a good result. Except the first minutes when we conceded three or four times when they could run, the rest of the game I liked a lot, the game we played and the chances we created in many situations.
"I would like to play quite similar."
With the EPL title apparently heading to Anfield as Liverpool keep a 13-point lead over second-placed Leicester City, Guardiola is forced to focus on the cup competitions after winning a domestic treble last year.
"A third semi-final in a row. It is not the best competition in the world, but it is nice to be here again and against our city opponents," he said.
He added that he has everyone back in training, including Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte, with Leroy Sane the sole exception, and the 48-year-old has not yet settled on a starting XI.
"I have an idea," he said.
"We have played an incredible amount of games and some players need to rest. I have an idea, but I am not 100 per cent sure who will play tomorrow." - AFP