Prediction: Sergio Agüero to score first
Premier League teams get their participation in the 2017/18 FA Cup underway this weekend and Burnley have a huge task as they travel to the Etihad Stadium to clash with Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men welcome the Clarets looking to continue their excellent domestic form and continue their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple as they start their assault on English football’s oldest and most prestigious cup competition.
Many headlines have been written about the Sky Blues’ excellent form this season, and justifiably so as they sit 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League table. Boasting the best defence, the most prolific attack and having only lost one game in all competitions this season, there appears to be no route to halting the rampant Citizens. The five-time FA Cup winners also possess considerable pedigree in the competition too. Having reached the final on no less than ten occasions, their last victory came in 2011 having dismissed of Stoke City 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. However, their last final appearance ended in disappointment as Wigan Athletic lifted the trophy at City’s expense. They will also be aiming to go one better this time around having reached the semi-finals last season only to be ousted by eventual winners Arsenal.
As a matter of fact, the Citizens have not failed to progress past the Third Round of the FA Cup since 2012. Although, their home form in the competition is fantastic. The team have only lost four of their last 18 games in the FA Cup on home soil.
As could be expected for the FA Cup, their might be considerable changes to the Manchester City starting line-up, especially following the hectic Christmas period. Long-term absentees Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy remain ruled out, whilst Gabriel Jesus has joined the duo on the treatment table following his medial collateral knee injury suffered against Crystal Palace. Phil Foden is also ruled out with a knee injury. Kyle Walker however could return from a groin injury on Saturday.
Despite Sean Dyche’s Clarets enjoying an outstanding 2017/18 campaign so far, they will have to be at the top of their game if they are to come away from the Etihad Stadium with any sort of result. The Lancashire outfit need to get back to winning ways first however as the team have not won in their last five games. Although, in fairness, three of those clashes came against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Clarets managed to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup in 2016/17 but were eliminated by then non-league outfit Lincoln City 1-0 at Turf Moor. The last time the Clarets failed to reach the fourth round of the historic competition was back in 2015. Their away form in the FA Cup however does not give much cause for optimism though. Dyche’s men have only won two out of their 17 matches away from Turf Moor in the cup, a run that stretches all the way back to 2004. The Clarets though will hope to summon some of their fortune from their last success in the competition. Burnley lifted the FA Cup back in 1914 and have reached the final on further two occasions since.
Dyche has considerable injury worries to contend with for the trip to Eastlands. Long-term absentees Tom Heaton and Robbie Brady currently have no chance of being in contention for the game. Striker Chris Wood and defender Stephen Ward need at least another week to recover from knee injuries. Scott Arfield meanwhile has also been ruled out.
Key Facts to Consider
- Manchester City have the far better record between the two sides (W43, D24, L29)
- Burnley have not beat Manchester City away from home since 1963
- The two teams have only met three times before in the FA Cup – Manchester City winning twice, and Burnley once
- The Sky Blues have scored seven goals in their last three games against the Clarets
- Sergio Agüero has scored four goals in his last three starts against Burnley
If this clash was at Turf Moor, Burnley could well be in with a shout of progressing to the next round. However, facing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in their current form is a completely different beast altogether. The Citizens should progress easily, with Aguero fidning the back of the net.
It should be a high-scoring affair with even the Citizens’ reserve team capable of plundering a hatful of goals. Burnley however will also score at the Etihad Stadium but it will not be enough to overcome the would-be Premier League champions.
Prediction: Sergio Agüero to score first
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