Manchester City’s search of being crowned FA Cup champions for a second time in three seasons sees Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Whaddon Road to face League Two side Cheltenham Town.
The Blues will be looking to avoid an FA Cup upset when the two sides meet for the first time ever at the weekend. Cheltenham Town, who are winless in their last five league games, will try to pull off a giant killing to reach the FA Cup fifth round for just the second time in the club’s history.
City have only failed to make the fifth round of football’s oldest competition once in the past six years and if they do come out victorious on Saturday evening, then City will travel to Swansea City or Nottingham Forest in the fifth round.
Cheltenham beat Mansfield 2-1 in the third round, two weeks ago to secure their place in the fourth round with the national lockdown preventing the Gloucestershire side from filling their 7,200 capacity Jonny-Rocks Stadium at the weekend.
City fans, who no doubt would have loved to have been able to be in the away end for a traditional FA Cup away-day this weekend have joined a fantastic effort in raising upwards of £28,000 for the lower league club by purchasing virtual match-day tickets for what is an historic fixture for fourth division club.
Pep Guardiola opted for a strong City side in the 3-0 blitzing of Birmingham a fortnight ago but here is how we expect the Blues to set-up in this seasons FA Cup fourth round...
American goalkeeper Zack Steffen enjoyed a three match streak in the side when first choice keeper Ederson contracted COVID-19 at the turn of the new year and this weekend expect the 25-year-old to make his eighth appearance for the Blues.
With Nathan Aké still sidelined and the monumental defensive partnership of Ruben Dias and John Stones deserving of a well earned rest, expect the reportedly outgoing Eric Garcia to return from injury to start alongside 18-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis for what should be the teenager’s fifth first team start. Either side of the centre-backs will be the in-form Joao Cancelo on the right-flank while the out of favour Benjamin Mendy, who has seen Oleksandr Zinchenko take his place in the Premier League recently, will start at left-back.
In a midfield, which is expected to see some City stars of the future get the nod from Pep Guardiola, the incredibly experienced Fernandinho will start in his preferred defensive midfield role after not featuring in the win against Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Ahead of the 35-year-old will be 20-year-old, German midfielder Felix Nmecha who we expect to get his first ever senior start for the Blues on Saturday. Next to the German - who featured in the third round - will be teenager Tommy Doyle, who has shown exciting potential in his five showings since his debut in the League Cup against Southampton two years ago.
The fourth and final academy star who will start for the Blues at Cheltenham is the hot prospect, Liam Delap. The 17-year-old, who scored on debut against Bournemouth in September and was awarded his first Premier League appearance against Leicester just three days later will start up top on Saturday. The teenager scored a hat-trick in his most recent appearance in PL2 but also happened to be shown a red card in the game last week.
Either side of Delap will be wingers Riyad Mahrez and Ferran Torres. The latter has had a phenomenal start to life at City with seven goals from his nineteen appearances so far though the Spaniard is yet to start in 2021, with his only appearance coming in the second half against Palace. The 20-year-old was amongst a number of City players who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
Substitutes: Scott Carson, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Cole Palmer and Luke Mbete-Tatu.
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