Manchester City welcome Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round replay at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 (12:10 PM Pacific, 20:10 GMT). Although the match will be taken seriously by Manuel Pellgerini, the Chilean manager would view the clash as one which City could have done without, given that his side has been consistently playing 3 matches in a week for the last month. However, if there is one side that is capable of dealing with the fixture congestion, it is Manchester City.
The Citizens are more than capable of shrugging off a couple of injury problems and head into the clash in great form, having won 9 of their last 10 matches. Pellegrini will be ringing the changes, but should be confident of victory against the Championship side, especially as they are currently almost invincible at home.
Blackburn Rovers earned a gritty victory over Doncaster Rovers in the weekend and are in good form themselves. However, as much as the clash is a distraction for City, Rovers will also feel that it is a game which they would have wanted to avoid, with the club currently aiming to gather momentum in their chase for a play-off spot.
A visit to the Etihad to face Manchester City is perhaps the most daunting prospect in England at the moment, and Rovers will require a minor miracle to progress to the next round. Gary Bowyer’s men can take inspiration from the fact that they performed valiantly against City a fortnight ago and hope to put on a similar display on Wednesday night.
City have a couple of injury problems heading into the clash. The likes of Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri were all forced off against Newcastle United in the weekend and look set to miss out. David Silva could also miss the clash, while Jack Rodwell and Stevan Jovetic remain doubtful.
Costel Pantilimon will start in goal for City, while Micah Richards could also return to the lineup at right-back after being named on the bench against Newcastle. Mateja Nastasic, Joleon Lescott and Gael Clichy will probably complete the back-four.
Javi Garcia looks likely to start in midfield alongside Fernandinho with the likes of James Milner and Jesus Navas being deployed on the wings. Alvaro Negredo will lead the line for the Citizens, while Sergio Aguero may be fit in time for the clash after returning to full training after a month-long lay-off.
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer, may elect to rest some of his key players for the clash. Paul Robinson will start in goal with Tommy Spurr, Grant Hanley, Scott Dann and Adam Henley starting in front of the former England International, while Matthew Kilgallon will also be pushing for a start.
The likes of Ruben Rochina, David Dunn and DJ Campbell could all be handed starts, while Tom Cairney and Jason Lowe may be afforded a rest after the tough clash against Doncaster over the weekend.
It will be interesting to see if star striker Jordan Rhodes will be handed a start, but Rudy Gestede looks set to be named in starting lineup.
Manchester City (Probable XI): Pantilimon; Clichy, Lescott, Nastasic, Richards; Milner, Fernandinho, Garcia, Navas; Negredo, Aguero
Blackburn Rovers (Probable XI): Robinson; Spurr, Hanley, Dann, Kilgallon; Campbell, Dunn, Rochina, Marshall, Williamson; Gestede
Manchester City: W W D W W
Blackburn Rovers: D L W D W
4/01/2013 Man. City 1 – 1 Blackburn (FA Cup)
25/02/2012 Man. City 3 – 0 Blackburn (Premier League)
01/10/2011 Blackburn 0 – 4 Man. City (Premier League)
Manchester City vs Blackburn Prediction
City head into the clash as clear favorites. Pellegrini’s men have been invincible at home and have easily swept away any side that has visited the Etihad. There is also a prospect that Rovers manager Gary Bowyer may not field his strongest side, given that they are fighting hard to earn a play-off spot and do not possess the same resources that City do.
The FA Cup is beautiful due to the competition’s nature of throwing an upset, but it is hard to see that happening on Wednesday night. Rovers could well be at the wrong side of a hammering. Prediction: Manchester City 4 – 0 Blackburn Rovers.
Manchester City vs Blackburn Television
The match will be televised on Fox Deportes & Fox Sports 2 (USA), and ITV (UK).