Manchester City’s FA Cup title defence faces an ominous task as they head to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round on Friday.
As one of the Premier League’s heavy hitters must go home in round four, Spurs will be confident of avoiding that destiny after winning all five previous competitive games against City at their new stadium.
The teams haven’t met at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season, but Ange Postecoglou’s troops showed no fear or respect at the Etihad Stadium in December.
Despite staring down the deficit twice, Tottenham fought back each time to hold Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side to a goal-glutted 3-3 draw, an outcome that would send this tie into a replay.
Man City probably wouldn’t mind such a scenario given their perennial struggles at Tottenham’s new stadium, though they’ll more likely be looking to end it here and now.
No strangers to pulling off comebacks themselves, the Cityzens claw back from a 2-1 half-time deficit to beat Newcastle United 3-2 at St James’ Park in their opening top-flight game of 2024.
That victory marked their sixth consecutive win in all competitions, making it nine unbeaten matches on the trot overall (W8, D1).
City’s embarked on their winning run with emphatic triumphs against Urawa Reds and Fluminense during a title-winning FIFA Club World Cup campaign last month.
They’ve shown no signs of slowing down since.
Tottenham emerged victorious in their last Friday-held FA Cup tie, squeezing past Premier League relegation strugglers Burnley in round three, courtesy of Pedro Porro’s late winner.
Plagued by numerous high-profile absences, Spurs had to fight back twice to eke out a pulsating 2-2 draw against City’s local rivals Manchester United in the aftermath.
But their inspiring run of four consecutive wins in the FA Cup fourth-round ties, compounded by a four-match winning streak on home turf, suggests they’ll be gunning for a more favourable result on Friday.
A lack of seven first-team stars could throw a spanner in the works as Tottenham bid to avenge a 4-3 defeat in their last encounter against Man City in this competition back in 2004.
That triumph forms part of City’s folklore, considering they overturned a 3-0 deficit despite trailing Spurs by a man to reach the fifth round.
More confidence comes from the Cityzens’ impressive run of making it out of the FA Cup fourth round for nine seasons on the trot, including last year’s title-winning campaign.
Bidding to become the first side to win the trophy twice in a row since Arsenal in 2014/15, Guardiola’s charges make this trip amidst a telling 11-game winning streak in FA Cup away ties.
Speaking of Man City’s dominance in the hostile setting, they’ve won their last five competitive away games since a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa in early December, netting multiple goals on each occasion.
Pape Matar Sarr, Yves Bissouma and Heung-min Son are away on international duty, yet Tottenham could receive a massive fitness boost ahead of the Friday showdown.
Star playmaker James Maddison could return to the fold after months on the sidelines. However, this game will come too soon for Manor Solomon, Ivan Perisic, Ryan Sessegnon and Ben Davies.
Erling Braut Haaland is back in contention for Man City after returning to training earlier this week, leaving Ederson, John Stones and Manuel Akanji as the only doubts.
Guardiola welcomed talismanic midfielder Kevin De Bruyne back against Newcastle, with the Belgian superstar marking his return to the pitch with a goal and assist off the bench.
Tottenham Hotspur potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Guglielmo Vicario; Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie; Rodrigo Bentancur, Oliver Skipp; Brenan Johnson, Timo Werner, Dejan Kulusevski; Richarlison.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(3-2-4-1): Stefan Ortega; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol; Rodri, Rico Lewis; Oscar Bobb, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jeremy Doku; Erling Haaland.
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