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Jan 29, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
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Ilkay Gundogan: 'EFL Cup as important as other competitions'

:Headline: Ilkay Gundogan: 'EFL Cup as important as other competitions':
Manchester City have reached the Wembley showpiece for a third straight year, having won the trophy twice in a row.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is determined to lift the Carabao Cup for a third successive season after edging past bitter rivals Manchester United.

Three weeks after romping to a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford, Pep Guardiola's men were made to sweat as a 1-0 defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men saw them progress from the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate.

City have won the last two editions of the Carabao Cup and will this time face Aston Villa at Wembley, having become just the third side in the competition's history to reach the final in three consecutive campaigns.

"It feels great to be there for the third time in a row," said midfielder Gundogan, who was part of both the 2018 and 2019 triumphs.

"It's always special to travel to Wembley, always big games. Hopefully we can win another final – the third consecutive one in this competition.

"We try to go for it. It's as important as the other competitions.

"We don't try to think that maybe we would do better if we get knocked out early in this competition to be fresher for the other competitions. That's not how we think.

Ilkay Gundogan holds the League Cup after City beat Arsenal 3-0 in 2018 (Joe Giddens/PA)

"We have great players too and everyone wants to play and keep their rhythm and form.

"These games give you the possibility to maintain form and give everyone game time.

"We just see it as a competition where you can win a trophy and obviously that's our target."

Carabao Cup success will be a welcome boost for a side that will likely not be retaining the Premier League crown given Liverpool's eye-watering lead at the top.

Nemanja Matic scored the winner – and was later sent off – on Wednesday (Martin Rickett/PA)

FA Cup and Champions League glory remains possible, but Gundogan knows they need to put in a better performance than Wednesday's.

"Especially after conceding the goal, it was too sloppy from us," the Germany international said. "We started really well, created really good chances early and if we score I think it's over and it's done but sometimes we have the issue to concede.

"It's totally normal in football – even a great team like us with great players can concede goals and be one goal down but it's about reacting and not getting too nervous, sticking with your plan.

"In some periods in the past we struggled a little bit and we should learn from it because we have big games coming; of course with the Champions League."

The round-of-16 clash with Real Madrid will make for fascinating viewing as City look to finally look to fulfil their ambition of going all the way.

David Silva will go down as a Manchester City great (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Spanish giants stopped them at the semi-final stage in 2016, when David Silva was prevented from playing the second leg by a hamstring injury.

The City great has already confirmed this will be his final season at the Etihad Stadium and Gundogan hopes to help his 34-year-old team-mate go out with a bang.

"David is professional enough and we are to go for that trophy," he said of the Carabao Cup. "It's a great chance with being in the final.

"I don't think he needs to win another trophy to say that he had a great career so far but obviously he's a big professional and he wants to go for it so we want to."

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