Our football scribe previews the 5th Round FA Cup replay between Manchester City and Huddersfield City.
This replay could not have really come at much of a worse time for the Citizens, especially considering the fact that their Premier League tie with fierce city rivals United had to be postponed at the weekend due to the League Cup. Pep understands that the schedule is about to get really congested and will likely start a fairly sub-strength eleven. Not that Huddersfield are a pushover. Manager David Wagner has a well-drilled side that is amongst the fittest teams in the Championship. They have recently surged up the Championship table and stand an excellent shot at promotion. So it should be interesting to see just how lightly Guardiola takes what is clearly an upwardly mobile Huddersfield Town side.
FA Cup Replay | Manchester City v Huddersfield Town | Wednesday 1 March | The Etihad Stadium
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 1/8 | Draw 7/1 | Huddersfield 16/1
City will be looking to implement their 4-1-4-1 system against a Huddersfield side that favours the conventional 4-2-3-1 approach. City created chances at Kirklees Stadium but also had put out a fairly experimental squad with European commitments approaching. Having said, that, Huddersfield also left out a few of their key players with their promotion campaign approaching fever pitch. So City will need to be judicious and not take this task too lightly.
I suspect while Guardiola will likely start a skeleton crew, he will place one of his more incisive players into the mix. I suspect that Silva may play in behind Ihenacho, with Nolito and Navas playing down the flanks. The Spanish duo have been sporadically effective for Guardiola’s side and will be looking to place a marker down with so many important matches coming up. What will be quite pleasing to the City fans could be the inclusion of Vincent Kompany, although who knows how long his fitness will hold?
Wagner’s side had a fairly frustrating outing at Barnsley this weekend, with Barnsley’s goalkeeper Adam Davies producing a herculean display to keep the Terriers at bay. He prevented Wagner’s side from accumulating their seventh consecutive victory, which indicates just how much the tide has turned. But you do feel that they missed out on their big chance for quarter-final qualification and will be tested to the limit at the Etihad.
6 foot 5inch Phillip Billing was immense in the first leg and will likely come in alongside Mooy in the heart of midfield. He may see this as an opportunity to exploit a City midfield lacking some of the heavy hitters. Their leading goal-scorer Kachunga will be looking to add to his impressive tally of 11 goals this season. Hui's pace may give him the opportunity to exploit City on the counter. Also watch out for the intricate passing of Van la Parra and Quaner, which will pose questions of City if they are able to get a semblance of possession.
Verdict: Halftime-Fulltime Double - City/City 4/10
It’s just going to be too big a task for Huddersfield this week, especially with City well rested after having no competitive football at the weekend. I expect Nolito and Navas to sparkle against weaker opposition.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets