As Liverpool continue to assert their dominance on the Premier League, the cup competitions look like being Manchester City’s only source of silverware this season. Although the Blues may have the second leg of the league cup semi-final against Manchester United on Wednesday, they host Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side managed to overcome the tricky hurdle of Sheffield United in midweek, winning 1-0 in a feisty affair at Bramall Lane. The Blues are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run and with the massive match in midweek, this weekend’s FA Cup game should offer the City boss an opportunity to rest some key players. It also allows those involved the chance to stake a claim for the semi-final squad.
Everyone bar Leroy Sané is available for Sunday’s FA Cup game. That means defenders John Stones and Benjamin Mendy, who missed the win in midweek could feature. Aymeric Laporte made a surprise start on Tuesday in his first game back and lasted 70 minutes, having recovered from a ligament injury sustained in August.
As this is a domestic cup game, Claudio Bravo will no doubt replace Ederson in goal, in what could be the Chilean’s 57th game for the club. The defence is also likely to change, and you would think the short turnaround from midweek would rule out a start for Aymeric Laporte. Therefore, John Stones will take his place playing alongside Eric Garcia with Joao Cancelo and Angeliño on the flanks.
Phil Foden will get his ninth start of the season when he features in the midfield, with the youngster having only ever lost once when he’s started a game for Manchester City. Bernardo Silva, who was on the bench in midweek, will also get a start. The two of them will play in front of Ilkay Gundogan, who will be used in the defensive midfield role of a midfield three.
After Manchester City missed yet another spot kick, the German midfielder is also expected to be the Blues new penalty taker given his exemplary record.
The FA Cup game will hopefully provide Raheem Sterling the opportunity to re-find some form after a difficult period. The Englishman has failed to be directly involved in a goal in his past five appearances, and has now only scored six goals in the past three months. In the league so far, just 16.4% of his shots have ended up in the back of the net, compared to last season’s average of 22.1%. The winger will have the in-form Riyad Mahrez on the opposite channel, while Gabriel Jesus will get the nod over Sergio Aguero, with the Brazilian having yet to experience defeat in the FA Cup.
Substitutes: Carson, Harwood-Bellis, Doyle, Rodrigo, Zinchenko, Silva, Aguero.
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