For the most part of the 2017/18 campaign, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been untouchable. The Blues have played 39 matches in all competitions, winning 33 of those whilst losing just two; one against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and the other to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Their unbeaten Premier League record may be in tatters but an unprecedented quadruple is still very much on.
At the time of writing, City are 13 points clear of arch-rivals Manchester United at the top of the table – it would be fair to suggest that the title race is over and some would argue that Pep’s men should focus on the three cup competitions. City take on Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final later this month, sandwiched in the middle of their European doubleheader with FC Basel. The Blues will be confident of victory in both tournaments.
But the FA Cup is something of an unknown quantity. Next up for City is a trip to League One side Wigan Athletic and Guardiola will be quietly confident of advancing to the next round with minimal fuss. From there, it is about the luck of the draw. Should City draw one of England’s top clubs, say Chelsea, United or even Tottenham Hotspur, the Blues’ hopes of securing all four major trophies may be hanging by a thread.
City have had a comfortable route to the sixth round, beating Burnley 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium before a dominant 2-0 win at Cardiff City in the previous round. Wigan, top of the League One table as of February 7th, will offer plenty of enthusiasm and endeavour but it is hard to envision a Latics upset. City could dominate and that is a reason why William Hill have them at 1/7 to advance to the next stage of the competition.
Some would argue that the FA Cup will be at the bottom of City’s priority list but Guardiola was quick to respond to those suggestions. He selected a very strong starting line-up for the trip to Cardiff and he will continue to take England’s oldest club competition seriously. Some managers may disrespect the FA Cup but not Pep; he wants to build a dynasty at the Etihad and winning trophies is one of the best ways to do that.
In addition, it is important to remember that a few of England’s top clubs are already eliminated – and that should give City a greater incentive to push on if ever they needed it. The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, the only English club to beat City so far this season, are both out of contention and that can only mean positive things for Pep’s men. They certainly have the strength in depth to cope with challenging on multiple fronts.
Manchester City are doing incredible things and neutrals should sit back and enjoy. Pep has transformed City into the Barcelona of English football – the Blues are an absolute joy to watch. FA Cup glory could be on the cards, you certainly wouldn’t bet against the Premier League leaders on current form. There is an element of luck in the draw though and City fans will have everything crossed throughout the tournament.