Manchester City progressed to the Carabao Cup semi-finals with victory over Oxford United as Arsenal managerial target Mikel Arteta’s presence provided sub-plot.
City is awaiting formal contact from Arsenal over their assistant manager, Arteta. If this is to be his last game at City, Arteta went out on a winning note.
Oxford lost at home to City in the third round of the Carabao competitions last season. This season, they did themselves great credit, forcing keeper Claudio Bravo into a succession of second-half saves.
The League One side responded to Joao Cancelo’s deflected the first-half goal by drawing level less than a minute after the interval through Matty Taylor’s weaving run and finish.
In the end, Sterling struck twice from close range to settle any nerves and secure the holder’s place in the last four.
Manchester City will take over Manchester United in the semi-finals. Leicester Coty as well will face Aston Villa in the other all-premier league tie.
Arteta presence provides sub-plot
All eyes were on Arteta when Manchester City’s tea bus pulled up in driving wind and rain outside Oxford’s Kassam Stadium.
Arteta’s presence was a shred of obvious evidence that his expected move to Arsenal had not moved into completion. He was therefore still in his familiar place behind Guardiola’s side.
City’s hierarchy, however, is furious and puzzled that Arsenal has not yet contacted them to get the straightforward deal done.
On the pitch, a reshuffled City eventually had too much for Oxford. But they did not have it all their own way. The scoreline flattered the visitors.
What they said.
Oxford United manager, Karl Robinson said, “I was frustrated, i didn’t expect to say that. I thought we were disciplined, took them on in a game they are best at and we were brave in the press for a team so young.”
“I am pleased with the players. But my last thought tonight will b ‘what could have been’. We were lacking good finishing-that is it? I don’t think the goalkeeper made good saves. Most of them were at him.”
City’s managers, Pep Guardiola said, “Nervous is not the word. Oxford United pushed and played so well. A lot of good chances. They are strong, they work well in these situations. They sustain attacks very well. We have reached the semi-final for three years in a row.”
“A lot with the ball was brilliant, without the ball, players defended incredibly. I congratulate them because they were extraordinary. It was a tough condition. Winter is here, we saw it in the warm-up.”