Maurizio Sarri suggested reaching the EFL Cup final with Chelsea this season was just as difficult as Tottenham's run to the Champions League semi-finals.

The Blues beat Liverpool in round three and Tottenham over two legs in the last four of the domestic competition, as well as overcoming Derby County and Bournemouth in-between, before losing on penalties to Manchester City in February's final.

Chelsea are now left battling for fourth place in the Premier League and are through to the semi-finals of the Europa League, courtesy of a 5-3 aggregate win over Slavia Prague, leaving two paths open for next season's Champions League.

Sarri insists qualifying for UEFA's elite club tournament is not the be all and end all for his side, though, and he believes going all the way in continental competition is perhaps not as tough as it is made out, with luck playing a big part.

"I know very well [the] Premier League is very difficult," Sarri said. "For getting in the final of the League Cup, too, we had to play against Liverpool, against Tottenham, the final against Manchester City. It was easier to get to the final of the Champions League, I think."

Tottenham, by comparison, knocked out Borussia Dortmund and Man City to keep their European hopes alive.

"I think many give the Champions League too much importance," Sarri added. "Of course, it is the most important competition for clubs, but it is a competition with straight elimination, so sometimes you need a post in or a post out to qualify or to be eliminated.

"So we need to play very well but you need to be lucky in that competition. I can understand if you stay in the Champions League is another world probably. 

"I have played two times in Champions League and it's clear it's the most important competition for clubs in Europe and as a consequence in the world I think, but it’s a competition in which you need to be lucky."

Chelsea will take on Eintracht Frankfurt over two legs for a place in the final of the Europa League, but before then they face Burnley and Manchester United in the Premier League.

Sarri is not prioritising one competition over the other as the finish line draws into sight.

"At the moment we cannot choose," he said. "We have to try in the Premier League. We have to try in the Europa league. But we want to win the Europa League because it is a very important competition, not because of going in the Champions League. So we have to try to get top four. It's not easy for us because we only play four matches, but we have to try.

"The last four or five matches will be difficult for every team involved in fighting for the top four, not only for us. So we can see some very strange results in the last part of the season. We are going to fight and see at the end."

Sarri, who has come under intense pressure at times in his maiden campaign in English football, expects to have Eden Hazard fit for Monday's clash with Burnley after the Belgian forward left the field early against Slavia Prague as a precaution.

"I spoke to him at half-time and he had a big knock in the leg," Sarri said. "He told me I will try but I'm not sure I will finish the match, so I prefer to change him because we have to play another very important match in three or four days. I think it was better [to take him off].

"I think he will be fit. I have to speak with the doctor, so I am not sure, but my feeling is it is nothing serious."

Raheem Sterling showed "courage" in stepping up to convert the decisive penalty in Manchester City's EFL Cup final victory, earning the admiration of manager Pep Guardiola.

City return to action in the Premier League against West Ham on Wednesday and remain in the hunt for a landmark quadruple after Sunday's shoot-out success over Chelsea, which was sealed by Sterling's cool-headed effort that went in off the crossbar.

Guardiola revealed that Sterling, a player who has often come under intense scrutiny on and off the field, had put himself forward to take either the first or the fifth of City's spot-kicks at Wembley.

And it was that fact which most impressed Guardiola, who was asked about the extent of Sterling's potential.

"I cannot anticipate how far he will go, but I admire the fact that he took responsibility," said Guardiola.

"He wanted the last penalty or the first one. He's 24 years old and I think that's magnificent.

"I think he's enjoying it more, he will retire and say he had the courage and responsibility.

"The players are judged on these actions, the last taker in the finals. That makes the difference."

Despite having scaled new heights at the Etihad Stadium over the past couple of season in particular, turning occasional eye-catching displays into consistently excellent performances, it has been argued that Sterling's talent is still not fully appreciated outside of the club.

But Guardiola does not believe the England international should be troubled by that, insisting the respect of his team-mates carries more weight.

"He has to be not concerned about that, you show them," he added. "The important thing is the opinion of his mates, if they give credit, that's the best prize you can have as a football player."

Sergio Aguero feels Manchester City have "the capacity to win everything" and backed his team-mates to make history by winning four trophies this season.

Pep Guardiola's men returned to the top of the Premier League table after they strolled to a 6-0 victory over Chelsea, and they subsequently avoided an FA Cup upset by beating Newport County 4-1 in the fifth round on Saturday.

Ahead of a week in which City travel to Germany to face Schalke in the Champions League and then to Wembley to play Chelsea in the EFL Cup final, Aguero had his sights set on winning everything.

"If you get to this stage in the season with a chance to win four titles it means you are doing well," the Argentine striker told The Mirror.

"And I wish it would happen. I'm ­ambitious and you have to aim high.

"I know that nobody has ever done it before and I would like us to go down in history. For me, too, I want to be the one who scores goals in all the finals.

"I see this City team as having the ­capacity to win everything – and so that is our challenge."

Aguero's treble against Chelsea drew him level with Alan Shearer's record of 11 Premier League hat-tricks and took his goal tally for the campaign to 17 in 23 appearances.

At 30 years of age, the question of whether Aguero will finish his career at City or return to his homeland continues to surface but the club's record goalscorer said he has no plans to leave.

"City are a champion team with a champion coach," he said. "What else am I going to want?

"I'm very happy at City and for now I don't even think about leaving.

"It's a great club that always looks after its players. I saw it from the very first day I arrived and it’s continued ever since.

"I still don't know what I will do when I finish ­playing, but I will continue in the football world, that's for sure.

"For now I just dream of winning titles with City every season, that is my main challenge."

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City must stay in the habit of playing in finals after reaching the EFL Cup decider.

Pep Guardiola praised Manchester City for seeing out their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion in a professional manner on what he described as a "dangerous" pitch.

Leading 9-0 from the first leg, Sergio Aguero's goal was all that was needed at a brisk Pirelli Stadium to seal a 10-0 aggregate win and a Wembley return for the reigning champions.

City manager Guardiola, who included several academy products, was content with the application of his side, particularly on a pitch that showed the strains of the icy temperatures.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "It was quite good, the pitch was so dangerous, so slippery. 

"We made a good game, we missed a little the last pass and the finishing, but Burton had two or three clear chances. [Goalkeeper Aro] Muric was outstanding. We are in the final.

"Every game is completely different, we started at 9-0 up but I didn't see a lack of desire. We played seriously and had no injuries.

"The youngsters did well, they had good performances. It's important to be in the final, it's not easy to get to back-to-back finals, it doesn't matter which competition. Now we will prepare well and try to win."

Chelsea or Tottenham lay in wait in the final, the latter of who are still using the national stadium for home games as their new White Hart Lane stadium is yet to open.

But Guardiola has no preference for who City face.

"I don't think about that," he added. "We are going to the final, now I'm not thinking about Chelsea or Tottenham.

"Both tough teams, incredible teams - one more year we are there."

One major positive for City was the return from a two-month injury lay-off for Benjamin Mendy.

The France left-back replaced Kevin De Bruyne in the 63rd minute and felt no ill-effects.

"The conditions were not great, but we prepared for this," Mendy said. 

"The players helped me ... I feel good, my body feels good, my legs, I'm happy."

Manchester City completed the formalities of their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion, a 1-0 second-leg win officially punching their ticket to Wembley.

Having scored nine without reply in the first meeting, Wednesday's match was little more than a dead rubber and City wrapped up a 10-0 aggregate triumph – two shy of the record for the biggest two-leg margin of victory in the competition's history.

Unsurprisingly, there was a pedestrian, almost pre-season friendly pace about the game, with Sergio Aguero making the first-half breakthrough against the League One side.

That proved to be the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium, leaving holders City to contemplate back-to-back EFL Cup finals for the first time in their history, with Tottenham or Chelsea their opponents on February 24.

Riyad Mahrez had already seen a low strike from an acute angle beat the left post before he helped open the scoring in the 26th minute.

The Algeria winger raced onto Kevin De Bruyne's sublime pass and selflessly cut the ball back for Aguero to side-foot home.

City did little to force the issue after the goal and it took until the 53rd minute for the visitors to carve another clear chance, Fabian Delph denied at close range by Bradley Collins. 

Aguero should have doubled the lead when he wastefully slotted wide from eight yards before Benjamin Mendy made a welcome comeback from a two-month injury lay-off.

Burton had a golden chance to at least mark the occasion with a goal, Eric Garcia clearing Will Miller's shot off the line, but ultimately the match was another addition to City's win column.


What does it mean? City aim to emulate rivals United

Last year's EFL Cup success was City's first piece of silverware under Pep Guardiola, setting the tone for a record-breaking Premier League triumph. If they can retain the trophy, they will be the first team since Manchester United to lift it in back-to-back years – the Red Devils having done so in 2009 and then again in 2010.

Mahrez makes most of minutes

Mahrez has reportedly been unhappy with his lack of minutes in recent weeks and was left out of the squad entirely for Sunday's Premier League win at Huddersfield Town. But the former Leicester City player showed no signs of sulking here - having already tested the water a couple of times himself, he laid one on a plate for Aguero.

Benjamin on the Mend-y good news for Zinchenko

Left-back has been a bit of a problem area for Guardiola this season, with Mendy having been absent since November with a knee injury. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been utilised in the role on occasions but never looked truly comfortable. He was caught out on a couple of occasions here and with Mendy back in contention, the Ukrainian will hope to fight for a place in a more familiar role further up the pitch.

What's next?

City now switch focus to the FA Cup and a home tie with fellow Premier League side Burnley on Saturday, while Burton resume League One duties against Bradford City.

Maurizio Sarri has claimed that Premier League referees are "not ready" for VAR and does not believe that the system should be introduced.

Danny Rose has revealed how Tottenham were determined to knock Arsenal out of the EFL Cup after the way their rivals reacted to winning the previous north London derby.

The Gunners triumphed 4-2 in the Premier League on December 2, the hosts turning around a half-time deficit at Emirates Stadium as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice.

However, Spurs avenged that result on Wednesday when the teams met again at the same venue, a 2-0 triumph securing a place in the semi-finals.

Rose admitted the visitors were not impressed by the way Arsenal's players had behaved after the league fixture, including Aubameyang sharing a video on Instagram of his team-mates celebrating in the changing room.

The England international felt the cup result was "karma" for the way their neighbours acted after just one result - and expects his side to finish above Arsenal in the table for a third straight campaign.

"We were fully relishing the opportunity," the England international told Standard Sport.

"Our only motivation was remembering the nonsense that Arsenal posted after the game a few weeks ago.

"That was our motivation. Players that have only played 10 games for Arsenal were getting ahead of themselves. We used that in a positive way. It's karma. They fully deserve what they got.

"We had the motivation of getting to the semi-final, so we're over the moon.

"But the cherry on top was silencing them after remembering how they celebrated like they had won the league.

"We've put that result right. We'll see where they are come the end of the season and we'll see where we are."

The Football Association (FA) fined the two clubs on Thursday after they both admitted charges of failing to control their players in the league meeting.

Arsenal were fined £45,000 and Tottenham £50,000 following a first-half scuffle after Spurs' Eric Dier celebrated making it 1-1 by running in front of the home fans and gesturing for them to 'shush'.

They are scheduled to meet in the return fixture on March 2.

Mauricio Pochettino should reject any approach from Manchester United in order to stay at Tottenham, according to Arsenal boss Unai Emery.

Mauricio Pochettino hailed Arsenal boss Unai Emery after Tottenham were drawn against their north-London rivals in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Son Heung-min returned to form in emphatic fashion as his double helped Tottenham to a 3-1 victory at West Ham to send Mauricio Pochettino's side into the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Mauricio Pochettino lauded Dele Alli for his performance against Watford after the Tottenham star netted the winning penalty in a 4-2 shoot-out victory in the EFL Cup. 

Harry Kane has finally been handed a rest, with Mauricio Pochettino leaving the forward out of Tottenham's squad for their EFL Cup tie against Watford. 

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