Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan has said his team’s surprise League Cup exit to struggling Southampton was a “wake-up call” as they try to hunt down Premier League leaders Arsenal.
City failed to produce a try on goal at St Mary’s on Wednesday as they fell to a 2-0 quarter-final defeat, thanks to goals from Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo.
Even second-half introductions by substitutes Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland could not spark a comeback for the visitors, who have won the competition eight times.
The Premier League champions return to action against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday and Gundogan said there was no margin for error.
“There is no room for any mistakes, nor for bad performances,” said the Germany international, whose team is five points behind leaders Arsenal.
“Hopefully, if there’s anything good we can get out of this game, it was kind of a wake-up call at the right time.
“Although it’s sad and disappointing to be out of this cup, hopefully, in the end, in a few weeks at least we can look back and get something good out of this game.”
City manager Pep Guardiola said City had “no chance” of beating United in form if they repeated their dismal performance against Southampton.
“Every game is different, a different competition,” he said. “But of course, if we act this way, we won’t stand a chance.
“We know exactly what we have to do to play better, so that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Under pressure, Southampton manager Nathan Jones celebrated the best result of his short tenure.
The Welshman believes the win, which set up a two-legged semi-final with Newcastle, provides optimism for the future as he turns his attention to the top-flight relegation battle.
“City are one of the best teams in the world, with the most innovative manager of all time,” said Jones, whose team is bottom of the table ahead of Saturday’s visit to Everton.
“We knew we had to do our best, but we showed from minute one to 96 and a half that we can be a very good Premier League team.”