So it’s an FA Cup replay, City having, in my opinion, lethargically ‘bored’ out a 0-0 draw at the John Smiths Stadium last week. Credit to Huddersfield, they worked hard for the full game, won the majority of the second balls and, if I’m honest were probably the better team.
Despite Agüero starting up front, City didn’t possess the edge required to get on the scoresheet. And that too, is despite having more of the ball and the lion’s share of the important stats.
There have been a few fans who have said the worst part of the performance was the lack of energy and dynamism in the midfield, which featured the recently seldom seen, Delph and Fernando. The game was in almost every way a stark contrast to the high energy game against Monaco that took place three days later. Perhaps, some of the players were saving their energy…
On to the replay, City will be looking to get the game won early, especially after having had the weekend off and a trip to Abu Dhabi. Nonetheless, let’s not forget previous years experiences of City returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi and playing an FA Cup game – Manchester City 0 – 2 Middlesbrough! … Somehow, I don’t think Pep will allow such a gutless performance as Pellegrini’s team turned out on that occasion.
In his press conference for the game, Pep has played his usual card of stating that he hasn’t decided on who will play in goal yet and has said that he needs to give game time to some of the squad players. With that in mind, I’d expect a mixed line up, Fernando and Delph are likely to feature, the same with Nolito, Otamendi and Clichy. Kompany has been ruled out due to the knock he took in training just before the warm weather training break. Questions remain over Iheanacho, who has found himself out in the wilderness since the turn of the year.
Looking at the goalkeeper situation, I think it’s fair to say that Willy Caballero has made himself City’s number one this season, at least in the eyes of the fans. Surely, Pep realises that Willy is better suited at the moment than Bravo. However, Pep has to stand by his man. I think we can all assume that whoever faces the Terriers, won’t be the same keeper that faces Sunderland on the weekend. I personally believe that Bravo will play against Huddersfield and if so, I’d take to mean Pep sees Willy as his number one choice for the moment. There are also rumours doing the rounds that Willy is going to be offered a one year contract extension, so that too gives an indication of how Pep sees things.
We can expect Huddersfield to play fearlessly, they showed in the first leg that they have players who are technically good on the ball and they’re not a side that’s afraid of working the tackles either. Lolley could prove to be the danger man for them. They have a couple of injuries to think about, but their position in the dog-eat-dog world of the Championship says enough about the strength of their squad. They’re no mugs.
I expect a City win. But I doubt Bravo could keep another clean sheet against Huddersfield.
Prediction: City 3 Huddersfield 1