London – The English League Cup semi-finals resume midweek with both ties very much still up in the air.
Manchester City take a slender 2-1 lead to Bristol City for their second-leg match tonight while Arsenal and Chelsea meet tomorrow night with nothing between them after a goalless opener.
Bristol City used the momentum from upsetting holders Manchester United in the previous round to make things tough for Premier League leaders Man City in the first leg.
The Championship side, who have knocked out four top-flight teams so far, looked to have earned a draw at the Etihad Stadium before Sergio Aguero broke their hearts with a stoppage-time header.
They now get a final chance to derail a bid for the first of what Man City hope is a four-trophy haul this season.
“The lads have been great in the first half of the tie,” goalkeeper Luke Steele said on the club’s website. “They were unlucky not to take a draw from the Etihad. We’ve got here and it will be a big game, like the quarter-final was against Manchester United. We’ll go out there fighting.”
The Robins come into the match without a win in six overall games, though they did end a run of five straight losses with a draw at Derby on Friday.
Man City, meanwhile, bounced back from their first league loss at Liverpool a week ago to beat Newcastle 3-1 on Saturday, thanks to Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick.
“We avoided two bad results in a row,” relieved manager Pep Guardiola said. “I’m so satisfied, you always have doubts after the Liverpool loss as to how we react.”
Arsenal and Chelsea hope their fifth meeting of the season produces something the first four haven’t - a winner.
The sides first played a 1-1 draw in August in the Community Shield, with the Gunners winning a shoot-out, before drawing 0-0 and 2-2 in the league.
And after nothing came out of a tight semi-final opener at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, they’ll be put to the test once again.
Both used fast starts at the weekend to record easy league wins with Chelsea rolling past Brighton 4-0 and Arsenal beating Crystal Palace 4-1.
Two goals in the first six minutes jump-started Chelsea, who had scored just once in drawing the previous four games.
“We must be happy for this,” manager Antonio Conte said afterwards. “At the same time, from tomorrow, every single player who scored today has to forget about that, and try to score again against Arsenal.
“This is the most important thing: to be happy for today’s performance, but from tomorrow to start to think about another important game.”
Arsenal scored all of their goals in an opening 22-minute blitz in ending a five-match winless run in all competitions.
“I think we started well,” manager Arsene Wenger said. “We played well and played the kind of football we want to play and we know we can play when everybody is focused and in a good shape.”
The winners will battle for the first trophy of the English season at Wembley Stadium on February 25.