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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Manchester City likely to be too strong for Bristol rivals

Wembley beckons for Pep Guardiola's men

Sergio Aguero's (centre) late goal is the difference between the two sides in this tie
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League Cup semi-final second leg
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Tuesday

Pep Guardiola failed to win any silverware in his first season as a Premier League manager but his Manchester City team are competing on four fronts this term and can advance to a Wembley final by beating Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Talk of the winning the quad has been played down by Guardiola but City are favourites to win each of the four trophies they are fighting for and are long odds-on to get past Bristol City, after defeating the Sky Bet Championship side 2-1 at the Etihad a fortnight ago.

The first leg was an enthralling encounter, showcasing the tactical strengths which have underpinned Bristol City's push for promotion to the top flight.

Premier League standings

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They defended with plenty of intelligence and bravery and there was a superb performance from towering centre-back Aden Flint, who risked a collision with the crossbar when heading Raheem Sterling's effort off the line.

The Premier League hosts kept their composure and it felt like a key moment in the tie when Sergio Aguero headed home the winner in injury-time.

At 2-1 down Bristol City still have everything to play for and know that a 1-0 home win over 120 minutes (the away-goals rule doesn't come into play until after extra-time) would be enough to send them to Wembley.

As a source of inspiration they can look to second-tier rivals Wolves, who held City to a 0-0 draw at the Etihad in the fourth round of this competition before losing 4-1 on penalties.

But City's focus and intensity is likely to be much greater now they are one step away from the final and it is worth remembering they have scored in 33 of their 35 matches this season.

Bristol City will do their best to contain the Citizens' threat but are hampered by the likely absence of first-choice defender Nathan Baker (ankle) and goalkeeper Frank Fielding (groin), who picked up injuries during Friday's 0-0 draw at Derby.

Baker's half-time replacement at Derby was striker Famara Diedhou, who made his first appearance in almost three months having recovered from a knee injury.

Diedhiou, signed from Angers for a club-record fee last summer, is in the frame to start against City and his pace and strength will cause Guardiola's backline a different set of problems.

The hosts will have the option of playing a little bit more directly and Diedhiou's physical presence could free up space for fleet-footed attacker Bobby Reid, the Robins' top scorer this season with 12 league goals.

The Championship side will probably carry a greater threat than in the first leg and can claim a minor accolade by becoming the first English team this season to score at home and away against the Citizens.

However, they are sure to struggle to cope with the weapons City have in attack and are likely to succumb to another defeat.

Man City win and both teams to score
1pt 19-10 Ladbrokes

Bet on this match at

Team news
Bristol City
Nathan Baker (ankle) joins Gary O'Neil, Jens Hegeler, Eros Pisano and Callum O'Dowda on the sidelines while Frank Fielding (groin) is a major doubt.

Man City
Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy are sidelined, so Alex Zinchenko is likely to continue at left back. Yaya Toure has started all four of Manchester City's League Cup ties and may return to the starting line up. Gabriel Jesus (knee) is out.

Key stat
Manchester City have kept just four clean sheets in their last 16 matches.

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It is worth remembering they have scored in 33 of their 35 matches this season
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