Can Guardiola compensate with the FA Cup?


Before awkwardly making a guard of honor for the Liverpool players next Thursday at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City have a chance to get closer to another trophy now that the Premier League is off the table.

Pep Guardiola’s men take a trip to St James Park in the FA Cup to entertain Newcastle United who are enjoying their best run in the competition since 2006. They will face off for a place in the semi-finals on Sunday at 18:30 BST.

The Cityzens have officially lost the league to rivals Liverpool on Thursday following an away 2-1 defeat against Chelsea. A contest that forced Guardiola to admit: ‘’You cannot win all the time.’’

‘’I never thought in my life, as a football player or a manager, that you can always win.’’

Nevertheless, the second-best team in England will reroute their GPS toward Wembley as they face Newcastle United in the quarter final of the FA Cup. The City manager had already insisted ahead of the Chelsea game that the trip to the north was quite valuable to him and his men.

Meanwhile, the Magpies come off a tight draw at home against Aston Villa and are unbeaten in the last five games in all competitions (three wins). They sit comfortably at 13th with 39 points surrounded by a two points gap from each side of the table, not far from where they probably aimed to be at the beginning of the campaign.

At manager Steve Bruce’s disposal will be Miguel Almiron, the Paraguayan has the most amount of goals in the competition from the remaining teams and is the second top scorer overall with four goals. A sold-out St James Park is usually another weapon in their arsenal but due to current circumstances only the stadium is provided, Bruce commented:

“There’s no disputing we’d love a packed St. James’ Park but it’s not to be. We’ve got a big game, a huge game and we’re going to have to be at our best. They’re a very good side and they’ll treat the cups now as something to look forward to.”

The Newcastle boss was not wrong there! His dugout opponent insisted:

“We cannot forget that we won two titles this season and we have two more to play for. We are going to try.”

City come off quite a disappointing week, however, they won four of their last five games and their goal record simply cannot be overlooked, scoring nine goals since the league resumption while conceding only two.

The Manchester side is full of quality and is qualified by a very talented and robust bench. Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden each have two goals in the last three outings. They will be missing goal-machine Sergio Aguero (16 goals) due to an injury, the Argentinian could be replaced by Raheem Sterling who has found the net 12 times, Gabriel Jesus scorer of 10 goals this campaign.

With or without supporters a trip to Newcastle’s home ground is always a challenging one, but Guardiola’s men will be heading with determination and drive to rebound on last week’s blows.

Guardiola still has the UEFA Champions League trophy to fight for, his side won the round of 16’s first leg against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu 2-1, and the Spaniard is making sure the focus does not shift completely, he said: “Now, we have five or six weeks to play. The FA Cup on Sunday is important and we need to achieve qualification for UCL and after that we need to prepare for Madrid.”

Team News

Aguero will be missing from the visitors’ team following a knee casualty, John Stones is struggling with an ankle and is in doubt, he might appear on the bench on Sunday night.

Fernandinho is suspended following a red card on Thursday against Chelsea.

In terms of Newcastle absences, Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie were taken off against Aston Villa and will be uncertain for the cup clash.


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