Huddersfield Town aim to be giant killers when they play host to Premier League Goliath Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup (3pm Saturday).
Pep Guardiola’s side have bounced back brilliantly following the nadir that was their 4-0 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park last month. Since that heavy loss to Ronald Koeman’s charges, City have won four matches and drawn one in all competitions, scoring 13 goals and conceding on only three occasions.
Man City have climbed to second in the Premier League table in that time, as well as beating Crystal Palace in the fourth round of English football’s primary cup competition. Some of the football they have been playing in recent weeks has been exhilarating. The front three of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have been ably supported by creators David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
Guardiola will be delighted with his team’s three clean sheets in their last four outings. The first was in the aforementioned FA Cup success against Palace, then against West Ham United and Bournemouth, who were beaten 2-0 in front of their own supporters at the Vitality Stadium in the Premier League on Monday night.
Huddersfield are flying high in the Championship, with Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over relegation strugglers Rotherham United moving them to within fourth points of the two automatic promotion spots at the top of the division. Securing a place in the Premier League will be David Wagner’s primary ambition this term. After victories over Port Vale in the third round of the FA Cup and Rochdale in the fourth, Huddersfield have the chance to reach the quarter-finals of the famous competition for the first time since 1972, when they were knocked out by Birmingham City in the last eight.
This preview believes Guardiola is likely to shuffle his pack for this weekend’s trip to Yorkshire, with a number of fringe players set to be afforded an opportunity from the start. Gabriel Jesus suffered a broken metatarsal in the victory over Bournemouth and looks set to be out for up to three months, and Ilkay Gundogan is likely to miss the remainder of the season after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament last year. Club captain Vincent Kompany is in line for his first start since the win at Palace, while Fabian Delph, Fernando, Nolito and Claudio Bravo will all hope to be involved from the first whistle.
Huddersfield can not rely on the services of loanee Aaron Mooy, who cannot play against his parent club, as well as Sean Scannell (ankle), Kasey Palmer (hamstring) and Jonathan Hogg (groin). Wagner tends to favour a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the emphasis on heavy pressing and high-tempo attacking. The German-American, once a colleague of Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, may dilute his principles given the strength of their upcoming opponents. Town will almost certainly play on the counter-attack due to City’s preference for possession football, which means the speed and direct running of striker Nahki Wells will be essential when possession of the ball changes hands.
This has the potential to be a fantastic FA Cup tie and Manchester City must ensure they are not guilty of complacency at the Kirklees Stadium. Huddersfield will certainly cause Guardiola’s men numerous problems with their energetic style of play, but ultimately the visitors should have enough quality to wrap up a victory and advance to the quarter-finals. This preview’s betting tips’ verdict is for a Man City triumph with over 2.5 goals scored in total (best at 21/20 with Coral). Another suggestion is that Sane would be a good choice to score anytime (best odds at 21/20 with Coral or William Hill).