• Benjamin Wolfe

Sterling set for a return as City target FA Cup final? - Chelsea vs Manchester City Preview (FA Cup)

Updated: Apr 17

Hot on the heels of a historic Champions League win, City turn their attention to domestic matters and return once again to Wembley. A place in the FA Cup final is up for grabs as Pep Guardiola goes head-to-head with Thomas Tuchel. Are we about to witness a dress rehearsal of the upcoming Champions League final?

Match Officials:


Referee: Mike Dean (gulp)

Assistants: Ian Hussin, Dan Robathan

Fourth official: Andre Marriner

VAR: Peter Bankes

Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Reserve Assistant Referee: Constantine Hatzidakis

Overview:


Kick-off: 17:30 (GMT)

Venue: Wembley Stadium

Shown: BBC One


Pep Guardiola has never lost to a Thomas Tuchel team in five meetings: winning three and drawing two of them. Let us hope this continues tomorrow. City are favourites for this game but with a tough fight to overcome Dortmund in Germany just three days prior, the team selected will likely not be full strength.


Whilst Chelsea have never beaten City at the new Wembley stadium in three attempts, this will by no means be easy for Pep’s men. Their opposition here having had an extra day between games is something that should not be underestimated, and they played at home too.


Pep however is in a buoyant mood regarding the tie, especially after qualifying for the Champions League semi-final. He said:

“It is much easier. Imagine playing that game after no qualifying. It would be tougher.”

I imagine the players feel much the same as their boss on that one. I expect to see happy faces, expressive football and a desire to yet again get the job done as they have done all season.

“It is much easier. Imagine playing that game after no qualifying. It would be tougher.” Can the buoyant Manchester City mood propel them to the impossible this season?


I refuse to even use the ‘Q’ word, as I feel it is something that certain elements in the media are pushing to use as a stick to measure any potential ‘failure’ on our part. However, it is the middle of April and City are yet alive in all four competitions and that alone is something that should be applauded.


I am sure we will see an element of rotation in the starting eleven, but no matter which team the Catalan master decides to field, only City can beat City. As long as the players are properly motivated, and after the midweek heroics they should be, then I fully expect Pep to remain unbeaten against Tuchel.


We will likely see the reintroduction of Raheem Sterling and if there was ever a game set up to bring out the confidence in a player, why not this one? Big venue, big tie, big opposition. I fully believe in Raheem, this patch of poor form is just that, a patch of poor form. Only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals under Pep Guardiola at City than Sterling and once he gets back into the groove everyone will see why. All it takes is one game. The stage is set.

The FA Cup final may prove to be a decisive moment for Raheem Sterling this season, but only if he can regain his form and lead City to victory in the absence of Aguero.

Team News:


Sergio Aguero was confirmed by Pep Guardiola to miss this fixture, as he did the last one. On his available squad, Pep stated:

“Sergio is not in yet. Everyone else is okay. Tired but in a good mood.”

It seems that his final season is to be wrought with injuries preventing the living legend from playing out his final period at the club. Aside from the usual rotation to keep the squad as fit and fresh as possible, there are no other players that look set to miss this one.

Sergio Aguero has three goals in three matches vs Chelsea at Wembley Stadium and will be a huge miss for Guardiola's side as they aim to reach another final.

Predicted City XI:


Steffen, Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Jesus, Ferran

Opposition:


Thomas Tuchel has turned the fortunes of Chelsea on their head. He has successfully guided Chelsea into the final four of the Champions League and the final four of this competition. Since the German took charge of the club they have played eighteen games, winning twelve of them. A respectable record and with some big scalps taken within that time such as Spurs, Atleti, Liverpool, and Porto.


Tuchel’s squad availability is similar in respect to Pep’s with few absentees. Mateo Kovacic is side-lined, and Andreas Christensen may yet miss the tie. The Danish defender missed the recent game with Crystal Palace and even though he made the bench for the Porto game, he did not feature.

Mateo Kovacic is out and will miss the clash with City, although N'gplo Kante has been improving and is ready to play a full ninety in the game.


Chelsea Facts:


· Chelsea could reach their fourth FA Cup final in five seasons

· They have won seven of the previous eight FA Cup semi-finals

· The only defeat in this time was against Manchester City in 2013

· Tammy Abraham is the leading scorer in the competition with four goals

· Chelsea have lost four of six meetings with Manchester City in the FA Cup

- Chelsea’s recent form: LWWLW


Predicted Chelsea XI:

Kepa, James, Zouma, Silva, Rudiger, Chilwell, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Havertz, Abraham


Recent History vs Chelsea:


City have a fairly decent record against their London opposition. In the previous ten meetings between the clubs City have won seven and lost three. They have also scored sixteen goals to Chelsea’s eight in those games. A favourable record to be sure.

Manchester City have won both Wembley meetings with Chelsea under Pep Guardiola. The blues won the Carabao Cup on penalties after a goalless draw but won the Community Shield meeting 2-0, with a brace from Sergio Aguero securing the win.


City v Chelsea in Pep Guardiola's tenure:


Dec 2016 – City 1-3 Chelsea – League, Chelsea win

Apr 2017 – Chelsea 2-1 City – League Chelsea win

Sep 2017 – Chelsea 0-1 City – League, City win

Mar 2018 – City 1-0 Chelsea – League, City win

Aug 2018 – Chelsea 0-2 City – Community Shield, City win

Dec 2018 – Chelsea 2-0 City – League, Chelsea win

Feb 2019 – City 6-0 Chelsea – League, City win

Feb 2019 – Chelsea 0-0 City – League Cup, City win on penalties

Nov 2019 – City 2-1 Chelsea – League, City win

Jun 2020 – Chelsea 2-1 City – League, Chelsea win

Jan 2021 – Chelsea 1-3 City – League, City win


Prediction:


Tomorrow will be difficult as Chelsea are no pushovers. Thomas Tuchel has the team playing threatening attacking football whilst remaining rather resolute at the back. I just have this feeling that Raheem Sterling is going to return to form in this game. I am going to stick my neck out and predict a 1-3 City win with two goals from Raheem Sterling and one from Joao Cancelo. Chelsea will get a goal through Tammy Abraham.