City’s Eyes Switch to the FA Cup

City’s Eyes Switch to the FA Cup

As the final whistle blew at the Etihad on Wednesday, no one was really taking notice. Barcelona had just completed a historic comeback meaning a 0-0 between Manchester City and Stoke City was never going to catch the headlines. But one man who would have been more interested in proceedings in Manchester would have been Antonio Conte. 

Sam Cooper

With City dropping points, it leaves league leaders Chelsea ten points clear at the top. Surely now Pep Guardiola must divert his attentions elsewhere if he wishes to finish the season with silverware? This weekend, his side travel North to the Riverside Stadium where they meet Middlesbrough. 

The North East side have struggled in the league but have been enjoying a fine run of form in the Cup. In stark contrast to their difficulties in the league, Boro have found the goals flowing during their run and have scored three goals in two of the previous three rounds. However, City have also found the net frequently, scoring five goals in two of the previous three rounds.

Guardiola can hardly be accused of resting players for the cup either and this is largely due to the tough competition his team has been drawn against. West Haw away, Crystal Palace away and Huddersfield away represent some of the harder opponents that City could have been paired with and again the draw could have been more favourable to him. 

The game is the early kickoff on Saturday which is another obstacle to overcome for the Manchester side. Having played Wednesday, City have had a limited time to recover and may find some extra difficulties with the lunchtime kickoff. Guardiola elected to rest Raheem Sterling and John Stones while David Silva dropped to the bench on Wednesday in preparation for both this game and the midweek trip to Monaco. 

The City boss has described this game as a final but he may just have one eye on the trip to the South of France midweek so rotation is likely. But let’s not forget how much Guardiola would revel in a return to Wembley.

"It's so beautiful and that's why I'd like to be there. As a football player I won our first Champions League in Wembley, the old Wembley, and as a manager I won my second Champions League there, so of course Wembley is special for me, definitely.” - Pep Guardiola

Goals will likely flow but don’t be surprised if City take time to get going.
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