• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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City, Chelsea in another testy rumble

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There weren’t too many upsets to be had in the fourth round. Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all still alive in the tournament after victories, and they’ll be among the favorites to go all the way.

The pick of the clash in the fifth round of FA Cup is the clash between Man City and Chelsea, with the Etihad landlords seeking scalp of their rivals who inflicted on them their only defeat at home so far this season.

Lower-division sides like Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest are all still alive.

Forest and Sheffield United still need to win their replays in order to get into the fifth round, but the door is open for them to pull off some major shocks in the coming rounds.

Holders Wigan are also still hanging around. The Latics are hovering near the middle of the Championship table, so the FA Cup offers another opportunity to give their supporters something to cheer about.

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Man City at the moment are favorites to make it to the next round. They’ve won their last five matches in all competitions and 17 of their last 19. In fact, they haven’t lost a match at home in the Cup since November 10.

Things didn’t look too good early in the fourth round, as City went down 2-0 to Watford at halftime. A Sergio Aguero second-half hat-trick helped City along to a 4-2 win. It just demonstrated how easy it can be for City when they’re at their best.

There’s little doubt that if Man City have their mind to it, they’re the FA Cup favorites.

Their attack is lethal, and the defense is no longer the liability that it was earlier in the season when Vincent Kompany was out.

Chelsea are a tough draw in the fifth round, but with the match taking place at the Etihad, City have the advantage.

And should they make it through, they’re unlikely to have any another tougher test all through the tournaments.

Mourinho is not unmindful of what it was like during his early days at Chelsea when he faced pressures from Blues owner, Roman Abramovich who spent huge sums on players to push for trophies. The Portuguese-born tactician is expecting the same pressure to be on his title rivals Man City.  The Chelsea manager believes that Manuel Peligrini side should be far ahead in the title race given the quality in their squad.

“We are ready to go there to City in the FA Cup and enjoy,” Mourinho said.

“We are going to go there with a good attitude and nothing to lose. They have everything to lose. They are the team that was made to win. They have to feel now the same thing I was feeling here in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

“We are the best team by far. We have to win. If we don’t, it’s because we did something wrong. “

“We have nothing to lose, the former Real Madrid coach said.”

If Chelsea’s visit to the Etihad Stadium is the outstanding tie of the round, the draw threw up a second meeting of comparable magnitude, with Arsenal welcoming Liverpool.

Mourinho watched his Chelsea team beat Stoke City 1-0 at home but then got arguably the worst possible FA Cup draw: a visit to a stadium where City have been scoring at eye-popping rate this season.

City had won their previous 11 league fixtures at the Etihad this season – and had scored at least in their last 61, stretching back to November 2010 – but their stronghold was raided by their title rivals, Chelsea last Monday.

Jose Mourinho master class tactics saw Chelsea alter the direction of the Premier League title race with a superb 1-0 win at Etihad.

The home side had boasted a 100 per cent league record at Eastlands going into the game but boss Pellegrini was taught a harsh lesson by his counterpart.Chelsea missed the opportunity to open up a four-point lead at the top of the table as they were held 1-1 away at West Bromwich Albion – who moved out of the relegation zone.

Branislav Ivanovic opened the scoring at The Hawthorns, but the Blues were unable to build on that advantage and saw Victor Anichebe step off the bench to restore parity.

West Brom offered much more of an attacking threat after the restart and, having been knocking on the door for some time, saw Anichebe haul them level three minutes from time as he glanced a Saido Berahino cross in off the post.

For the battle against City in the league, Mourinho switched to a 4-3-3 system, dropped Oscar, and fielded three more physical and defensive-minded midfielders in Ramires, Nemanja Matic and David Luiz. Wide men Eden Hazard and Willian also dropped back in defensive phases to create a five-man midfield as City were invited to attack. Then, just as the 2012 champions approached the 30-yard mark, Chelsea pressed ferociously and after the half-hour mark got their reward, the only goal of the encounter.

Tactics and strategy is one of the most interesting subjects when discussing the world’s most popular sport; big games like Liverpool versus Arsenal and Man City against Chelsea – have clearly demonstrated just how important tactics and strategy is  and will also be the determinant for each side getting a result this weekend.

By:  Anthony Nlebem