The Citizens’ quadruple hopes were extinguished at Wembley as Hakim Ziyech’s solitary strike sealed defeat following a host of personnel changes
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola took exception to the suggestion that his side were eliminated from the FA Cup because they had taken their eye off the ball.
City’s chances of a unique quadruple were torpedoed by Chelsea on Saturday, as Hakim Ziyech’s goal sealed a 1-0 win for the Londoners.
The result brought the club firmly back down to earth less than 72 hours after making the Champions League last four at the expense of Borussia Dortmund.
What was said?
“What could I say? We had two-and-a-half days to recover and play away and have to travel, we were on the train for three hours and we were stopped one hour,” Guardiola fired to reporters after the final whistle.
“Everyone deserved to play, don’t say we don’t pay attention, when this team reached four finals in a row in a Carabao Cup. Just say we lost the game and when we lose the game the decisions are bad but it is a poor argument.
“You don’t get to the semi-finals of the FA Cup or final of the Carabao Cup four years in a row when we don’t pay attention.
“Say it before the game that Pep doesn’t pay attention or the players don’t, but don’t say after just because we lose the game. These guys fight every game like never before I’ve seen. Now we don’t pay attention?
“We respect the FA Cup a lot, we come here to win and next time tell me which people say that. Do you think [Raheem] Sterling, or Gabriel [Jesus], or Ferran [Torres] don’t deserve to play the game? Say it.”
The bigger picture
Saturday’s loss brought into focus once more Guardiola’s policy of rotating his team to cope with their packed fixture schedule.
The manager made eight changes from the side that started against Dortmund on Wednesday, bringing back into the starting line-up many of the players who were upset last weekend by Leeds United.
Pep had made similar observations in the wake of that defeat, claiming that: “When you lose [the selection is a mistake], when we win, I am a genius.
“I do not regret [the choices] because I trust them. If I didn’t trust them, they would not play.”
Despite this setback, City remain in the hunt for three trophies in 2020-21.
Next Sunday they are back at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final against Tottenham, while Guardiola’s charges also enjoy a commanding 11-point lead over rivals Manchester United at the top of the Premier League as the season reaches its latter stages.
In Europe, meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain await in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Parc des Princes on April 28, with the return leg scheduled for May 4.