Chelsea v Manchester City
22 February 2016
We’re at the fifth round stage of the English FA Cup, and undoubtedly the tie of the weekend would have to be the clash between Chelsea and Manchester City. Chelsea are still chasing silverware in the form of the UEFA Champions League, but have it all do in the second leg at Stamford Bridge against PSG after losing 1-2 in France earlier this week. Nevertheless, the away goal they scored will have helped their confidence, and a clean sheet along with a victory at home would guarantee them passage to the quarter finals of Europe’s most prestigious competition. With the Premier League totally out of their sights for the current campaign, and Chelsea not particularly favourites to lift the Champions League trophy this May, the FA Cup is the most realistic chance that Chelsea have of lifting any silverware this season. The loss to PSG was manager Guus Hiddink’s first loss for the club since taking over from Jose Mourinho in mid December, and they will want to quickly pick themselves up ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup clash. Unlike their opponents, Chelsea will also have a week’s rest after this weekend’s match, so we can expect a fairly strong line up to take the field at Stamford Bridge this weekend. The defeat to PSG followed a 5-1 demolition job of Newcastle in the league at home with Barcelona signing Pedro scoring a brace in a totally one sided match, although their opponents did themselves no favours with their wayward passing and poor retention of the ball. Prior to that game, Chelsea scored a late equalizer to draw against Manchester United in the league too. John Terry picked up an injury in that Newcastle match though, and is also unlikely to feature this weekend, and we could see a similar line up to the one who faced PSG, and Ghanian defender Abdul Baba could feature in the right back position with Cesar Azpilcueta featuring on the right flank.
Man City have suffered to straight defeats in the league, both at home, to the top two sides in the table at the moment, and their hopes of lifting the Premier League trophy this season look to have been dashed. They are six points short of top spot, sitting in fourth position in the league, so and with the imminent fixture pile up, City may have to start prioritizing. Following this weekend’s FA Cup match, they face Dynamo Kiev in the Ukraine n the Champions League Round-of-16 where they will be favourites to progress, and then next weekend they will face Liverpool in the final of the League Cup. Conveivably, they could still do the quadruple, but with the league slipping out of their reach, and tougher opponents to come in the Champions League should they progress at the expense of Dynamo Kiev, a cup double may be a more realistic challenge. They still need to face the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool in the league too, and unless they can start to pick up some sort of form, Manuel Pellegrini may finish his final season at Man City trophyless. They certainly don’t seem to have any trouble scoring goals and they have only failed to score once in their last eleven matches, but it has been their defense that has let them down this year, and they average over a goal conceded per game in the league this year. It is only marginally worse their opponents this weekend, who languish in 12th spot.
Chelsea will almost certainly have more drive than their opponents this weekend to get a result with this being the only likely silverware in their grasp, but with both defenses struggling to cope of late, a high scoring encounter can be expected too. The last thing Man City will want is a replay that will only add matches to their already heavily congested schedule.