Man City and Chelsea meet at the Etihad Stadium for the second time in two weeks, in a mouth-watering fifth round FA Cup clash. The two favourites for the title put their Premier League aspirations to one side in a competition which both teams have been successful in recent years. Either City or Chelsea have contested each of the last five FA Cup Final’s, with Chelsea winning on three occasions and Man City winning one, having lost in the final last year to Wigan.
Chelsea sit top of the table and come into the game in good form, having been unbeaten in their last 12 games in all competitions and winning eight of their last ten matches. Jose Mourinho’s men come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against West Brom but still managed to hold onto top spot after the midweek round of fixtures.
Man City had their midweek game against Sunderland postponed due to adverse weather conditions. The dress rehearsal to the Capital One Cup Final will now be rearranged in an already hectic schedule heading into the final quarter of the season. City currently sit in third place in the league but with a game in hand over Chelsea and Arsenal. Surprisingly Man City, who have been a goal scoring machine this season, haven’t hit the back of the net in two games now, having played out a goalless draw against Norwich in their last match.
In the two meetings this season, Chelsea were victorious on both occasions. A 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge courtesy of a fortuitous Fernando Torres goal was coupled by a tactical masterclass at the Etihad to come away with a 1-0 victory with Ivanovic grabbing the winner. However, when the two teams met in this competition last year at the semi-final stage, it was Man City who came up trumps with goals from Nasri and Aguero to send the blue half of Manchester into the final.
Centre-back Nastasic had joined the injury list at City and was set to be unavailable for the postponed game against Sunderland but may be fit for the FA Cup clash. Garcia and Nasri are back in training but this game may have come too early for both players. Aguero and Fernandinho are set to make first team returns by the end of the month.
Gary Cahill suffered a calf injury in the draw against West Brom on Tuesday and has a 50/50 chance of playing. Defensive partner John Terry will be available if he recovers from a minor knock, with David Luiz likely to partner him. Van Ginkel is a long term absentee but Jose Mourinho has no other injury worries at the moment.
• Chelsea are undefeated in 31 of their last 32 matches in FA Cup.
• Jose Mourinho has won 7, drew 1 and lost 1 in all head-to-head matches against Manuel Pellegrini.
• Chelsea have kept clean sheets in 5 of their last 7 matches in FA Cup.
• Chelsea have won the FA Cup 7 times whilst Man City have it won it on five occasions.
Man City: David Silva
Silva has proved for a number of seasons now that he is one of Manchester City’s star players, with his creativity and clever passing vital to City’s attacking strategies. With four goals and seven assists, he has contributed significantly so far this season and will be again looking to make an impact against Chelsea. With an impressive 89% passing accuracy, he has been accurate with 52% of his through balls (11 out of 21) as well as 79% of his long balls (33 out of 42). In terms of chances created, he has made 63 chances along with 8 clear cut chances. With in-form strikers Negredo and Dzeko hungry for goals, it will be up to the likes of Silva to provide the service for them to make an impact which will be the plan for Saturday.
Although Willian endured a slow start to his career at Chelsea, he has now asserted himself as a first team player ahead of the likes of Schurrle and Salah. When looking at Willian’s most important stats, we can see that he has only two goals and one assist to his name, but his role in the team is much more than that. His ability to help out defensively as well as spring counter attacks for the likes of Hazard, Oscar and Eto’o thrive upon makes him perfect for Jose Mourinho. Mourinho emphasises the need to be solid in both sides of the game as a midfielder, which is one of the reasons Mata was sold. However, as an attacking midfielder, Willian should be producing more where it counts and is currently being outshone by teammate Hazard. Willian has done well as a team player of late but will want to stamp his authority on a game like this to prove his worth.
With Manchester City already losing twice to Chelsea this season, they will feel the need to prove a point with a win not only in regards to this competition, but the Premier League as well. With Manchester City playing on Tuesday night, it may lead to Pellegrini making changes in personnel with one eye on Barcelona in the Champions League. That being said, I still think City will just edge this contest but I expect it to be a tight affair.