All-conquering Manchester City travels to Cardiff in the FA Cup this Sunday, hoping to take a step towards another Wembley final.

By 90Min
January 26, 2018

All-conquering Manchester City travels to Cardiff in the FA Cup this Sunday, hoping to take a step towards another Wembley final.

Victory over Bristol City means that Pep Guardiola will take charge of an English cup final for the first time, and will be expected to move towards another with a win over Championship promotion-chasers Cardiff, who have won only one of their last six league games.

Cardiff needed a replay to beat League Two Mansfield Town in the previous round, while Manchester City made short work of Premier League rivals Burnley, coming from behind to win by the same scoreline. 

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock will know that chances of an upset are slim, but he has had previous success in this competition, having taken Sheffield United to the semi-finals in 2003.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this tie at the Cardiff City Stadium:


Classic Encounter

Cardiff 3-2 Manchester City (25 August 2013, Premier League)

Cardiff and Man City have only ever met twice in the Premier League, sharing 11 goals across those two games. City beat the Bluebirds (then playing in red) 4-2 at the Etihad, but it was the game in south Wales – Cardiff’s first ever home match in the Premier League – which has lived longest in the memory.

Malky Mackay’s team can’t have held out much hope for the visit of Man City, who had destroyed Newcastle 4-0 in their opening game of the season. And it all seemed to be going to the script when Edin Dzeko gave the Citizens the lead just after half time.

However when Aron Gunnarsson equalized on the hour mark, Cardiff fans started to sense that something very special could be in the offing. It was provided by former Manchester United reject Frazier Campbell, who headed in from a corner with ten minutes remaining and then repeated the trick in the dying stages to seal victory. Alvaro Negredo scored a late consolation, but Cardiff held on for a memorable triumph.

By the end of the season, these two were going in very different directions. City were crowned Premier League champions, while Cardiff were relegated after just one year in the top-flight. 


Key Battle

Kenneth Zohore vs John Stones

Liverpool and Bristol City have demonstrated in recent weeks that attack truly is the best form of defense against Manchester City. Neil Warnock is unlikely to throw caution to the wind in quite the same way, but he should give his attacking players the freedom to play their own game. 

A lot will depend on the performance of Kenneth Zohore. The young Dane has been poor in front of goal so far this season, scoring just four goals in 17 league starts. If ever there was a time to start rewarding his manager's faith, it is now.

Manchester City's defense has been good this season, but not infallible, and that is typified by John Stones. His ability to play out from the back is almost unrivaled in the Premier League, but you always sense that there is a mistake in him.

If Stones is allowed to play his natural game, he will have a comfortable afternoon; but if Cardiff get in his face and pressure him at every opportunity, they may get their rewards. 


Team News

Cardiff will be without Yanic Wildschut, who made his debut for the Bluebirds two weeks ago after joining on loan from Norwich. He played for the Canaries against Chelsea in the third round, and is therefore cup-tied. 

New signing Marko Grujic should be available - the Serbian did not feature for Liverpool in the FA Cup before moving to Cardiff, and there is no reason why Liverpool would not allow him to play against one of their main rivals. 

Manchester City have no fresh injury concerns and Pep Guardiola put out a commendably strong team against Burnley in the previous round. Claudio Bravo, Danilo and Ilkay Gundogan - regulars in the cup competitions - are likely to start. 

Predicted Cardiff Starting Lineup: Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Ralls, Grujic, Damour; Mendez-Laing, Zohore, Hoilett

Predicted Man City Starting Lineup: Bravo; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Fernandinho, Toure; Sterling, Aguero, Sane


Prediction

Manchester City haven’t kept a clean sheet yet in 2018, which may give Cardiff some hope of an unlikely upset. However, this is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City we’re talking about, and if he puts out a team even half as strong as the one which saw off Burnley in round three, it’s likely to be a long afternoon for Cardiff. 

It should be fairly routine for the Premier League leaders.

Cardiff 1-4 Manchester City

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