Following their Champions League loss to PSG, the Premier League champions Chelsea turn their focus towards the FA Cup and the last 16 tie against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
Having suffered a 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, Blues have been dealt the first blow since mid-December and their Premier League loss to Leicester City. Chelsea will be hoping to extend their improved run of form domestically as they prepare to host inconsistent Manchester City in the FA Cup. Chelsea have been pretty comprehensive in the last round of the competition, having dispatched Milton Keynes Dons 5-1 at Stamford Bridge, but they are now faced with a much more difficult challenge. Hiddink’s men are coming off from a disappointing loss in Paris which saw them fall short against the well-balanced French side for Hiddink’s first defeat since his return to London. Zlatan Ibrahimovic put hosts up after 39 minutes, while Mikel levelled the score in the final moments of the first half. The experienced midfielder has been praised for his performances under Guus Hiddink and the leveller against PSG was his deserved reward for the fine performances. Blues were ultimately unable to hold on to the positive result as Edinson Cavani scored a winner for the Saints in the 78th minute. Blues took the away goal back to London hoping it will make a world’s difference in the return leg.
Hiddink will give John Terry a late fitness test ahead of the Manchester City match, as the Blues captain missed the Champions League action due to a hamstring knock he picked up against Newcastle.
Season is finished for Kurt Zouma who suffered a serious ligament injury, while Alexandre Pato is getting near full fitness and could be involved against Citizens.
Champions League will be on Pellegrini’s mind as he prepares for the FA Cup showdown with Chelsea. Manchester City will be flying to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kiev just 24 hours after their Sunday’s encounter with Blues and the FA Cup tie could not come at a worse time for Pellegrini and his men. Coming off from back-to-back Premier League defeats to Leicester City and Tottenham, respectively, Manchester City are eager to get the job done against Chelsea as soon as possible so they could start concentrating on reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time ever. Pellegrini will not throw the FA Cup clash away, but the Chilean was in no doubt when speaking about the priorities. Having in mind that these are his final months as Manchester City boss, Manuel Pellegrini wants to make the extra mile in Europe’s elite competition. The Citizens’ boss was not happy about the fact that tie with Chelsea was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday for live coverage and he is expected to field a much changed squad and give a run to his young guns in order to rest his first-team stars for Champions League challenge. Having in mind that he is struggling with a lot of injuries, it sure is wise thing to do.
Bersant Celina, Manu Garcia, Aleix Garcia and Kean Bryan are likely to be handed first-team inclusions for the game against Chelsea. Willy Caballero will replace Hart on the goal line, while Kelechi Iheanacho could start from the off.
Samir Nasri, Kevin De Bruyne, Wilfried Bony, Elaquim Mangala and Jesus Navas are all injured, while Aleksandar Kolarov is missing the game through suspension.
Key Factors to Consider
- Chelsea have lost their first match in last 13 games in all competitions
- Blues are unbeaten at home since December
- There have been under 2.5 goals in 4 of the last 5 games between two sides
- Citizens lost back-to-back games for the first time since November
- City have won three of their last four away matches
Chelsea will be keen to get back to winning ways following their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, while Manchester City will be focused on their own Champions League challenge and a trip to Ukraine just 24 hours after the game. Citizens will field a much changed line-up and it could be Chelsea’s chance.
Verdict: Home win