Manchester City – Wigan (FA Cup)
With the Capital One Cup victory Manuel Pellegrini’s side entered the zone, the trophy zone. Or so they hope. With one down and three to go they will now focus on hosting and beating Wigan United, their next step on the road to the second final of the season. But they should know better than to underestimate the Latics, let’s just expect they have learn last season’s finals lesson.
Manchester City‘s inaugural FA Cup match this season was far from brilliant and it served them as a wake-up call. They draw 1-1 with Championship’s Blackburn Rovers and were forced to bring the decision back to the Etihad where they finally beat the Rovers 5-0. Then they draw Watford FC, another Championship side, and secured a 4-2 win. That’s when things got serious, Chelsea was next. Just a week prior the Blues stormed into Manchester to inflict the Citizens their first home loss in the League proving they could be beaten. For Manuel Pellegrini the FA Cup fixture was an excellent opportunity to set the record straight. Which they did, in a sense. City knocked Chelsea off the cup contention (2-0) but the invincible aura was shattered.
Manchester City are the only club with silverware to their name this season. For most teams it would be enough to call it a success. Not for City’s millionaire super squad. Capital One Cup is in the bag, one down three to go. Sunderland was a worthy adversary at Wembley, playing all their cards from the get go. They even scored first, Fabio Borini’s hit opened the score sheet. It took the Citizens 10′ into the second-half for Yaya Touré to get the equalizer. One minute later Samir Nasri turned the match around. The hit was brutal for the Black Cats and they had no arguments left to counteract a confidant City side. Jesus Navas sealed the result at the 90th minute.
On Wednesday Manuel Pellegrini returns to Spain to face Barcelona for the second leg of Champions League last 16 and things are not looking good for the Manchester boys. A 0-2 home loss is probably too heavy a burden to carry against a powerful experienced Culés team.
Don’t let the forth place in the Premier League standings fool you. The Citizens are two games behind – to Sunderland and Man United – and in case they succeeded in both they’ll be top of the table.
City’s fitness doubts are limited to Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic. The pair will be assessed closer to kick-off.
Probable line-up: Pantilimon – Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy – Navas, Fernandinho, Touré, Silva – Aguero, Negredo.
The Latics are the FA Cup trophy holders, a prowess that granted them a spot in the Europa League. It was their first FA silverware and feature in the European competitions, all because last season they have managed to beat next Sunday’s opposition, something hardly anyone though possible at the time. But they did, going to Wembley determined not to sell themselves short. For 90′ Wigan held City off , hardly ever crossing to the oppositions side of the pitch. And 1 minute on injury time Ben Watson, that came in 10 minutes prior, scored the winner. David beat Golias once more and they are bound to try it again. Roberto Martinez was the manager. When he left for Everton he was replaced Owen Coyle but the Latics had a lousy first run which led to his leaving in early December, with 7 victories out of 23 ties. Uwe Rosler took over and since then Wigan have 9 wins in 14 division matches. Last Saturday they went and beat Nottingham Forest 1-4 at City Ground. It’s likely they resort to the very same starting XI.
Ben Watson, last year’s hero, is ruled out due to injury and so are his team-mates Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney.
Probable line-up: Al-Habsi – Perch, Boyce, Barnett, Baeusejour – McCann, McCarthur, Gomez – Waghorn, Maynard, McClean.
In the four FA Cup matches Manchester City exhibited their powerful attack skills, netting 12 and conceding only 3. Sergio Aguero’s returned to competition in the Wembley final and as he picks up pace more goals are to be expected, now the partnership with Alvaro Negredo is back on. Wigan Athletic have a 10-6 record on their way to this quarter-finals but have conceded plenty in their division (41 for and 30 against).