Guardiola wants City to maintain momentum in United derby date

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola wants his Manchester City to use Sunday’s derby at Manchester United to maintain their momentum for crucial Champions League and FA Cup games.

The champions have long accepted they cannot defend their Premier League title this season but their challenge on other fronts is still alive.

Last week city won the Carabao Cup for a third successive year and they also have their sights set on retaining the FA Cup and winning the Champions League.

They are already through to the quarter-finals of the former – and will face Newcastle later this month – while they are also on course to reach the last eight of the latter after beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

With City comfortable in second place in the Premier League, this weekend’s trip to Old Trafford would seem to be more important for the hosts, but that does not diminish Guardiola’s appetite for the derby contest.

The City boss said: “It’s always so nice. I love it, both teams do. They’re always special.

“Of course the situation this season is a bit different because we play to improve, to finish second, not to win the title. For them it’s important to qualify for the Champions League.

“We have to prepare for the next games, especially the two ‘finals’, against Madrid and Newcastle, and to improve what we do.”

City have won their last five games in all competitions, a sequence which has included their memorable victory at the Bernabeu and the Carabao Cup final.

That has come under the cloud of the two-year European ban that was imposed on the club last month but Guardiola has been pleased with the character and resilience shown from his players.

City are seven points clear of third place Leicester ahead of the game, while United sit in fifth but are just three points behind Chelsea in the final Champions League qualification spot.