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Mauricio Pochettino not expecting a vulnerable Man City in FA Cup semi-final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Apr 2024

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Mauricio Pochettino warned his Chelsea players not to expect to come up against a vulnerable Manchester City side when the teams meet in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

City go into the game off the back of playing extra time against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night before eventually being knocked out on penalties, leaving less than 72 hours recovery time ahead of stepping out at Wembley.

Pep Guardiola has had to deal with fatigue amongst his ranks in recent weeks, with midfielder Rodri admitting to needing a rest earlier this month. He was subsequently left out of the team for last weekend’s win over Luton at the Etihad Stadium but returned to the starting XI for the defeat to Real.

They are still in contention to retain two of the three trophies they won last season, holding a two-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League title race in addition to Saturday’s meeting with Pochettino’s side as they seek a third FA Cup triumph in six seasons.

Chelsea will return to the scene of their Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool in February, after which they were heavily criticised for failing to overcome a Reds team decimated by injury.

Jurgen Klopp’s side triumphed in extra time despite finishing the game with four highly inexperienced academy graduates aged 21 or under on the pitch.

And Pochettino insisted there will be no easy ride for his players as City lick their European wounds.

“The good example is Liverpool,” he said. “People were talking about too many injured players, how many young kids they had playing. Look what happened after.

“From our point of view, we are going to compete against Manchester City. If you ask me about their situation, I can give my opinion, but we are not talking about that. We are going to compete against them.

“Today we were preparing, doing meetings, about the Manchester City that played against Real Madrid, that played against us in the Premier League.

“We are not talking about playing one (City line-up) or playing another. For me, the strength of Manchester City is that they keep the same idea and the same philosophy.

“In the last five, six, seven years, even with different players, they play in the same way, they have the structure to dominate and to create chances and to win games and to win trophies.

“I understand the situation is tough for them after playing 120 minutes in the Champions League. Emotionally, you expend a big energy. It’s about how they recover now.

“They are going be competitive and they have an amazing staff that look after the players. They’re going to put 11 players that will play with full energy to try and win the game.”

Pochettino will have Enzo Fernandez available for selection after he missed Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton.

The manager said the World Cup winner’s fitness will be carefully managed following reports this week in Argentina that he requires a hernia operation.

“We are not looking for heroes,” said Pochettino.

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