WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) dives into the FA Cup 5th Round replay between Huddersfield and Man City. Will Pep Guardiola's hosts roll them over the Championship outfit?
Manchester City v Huddersfield | Wednesday 19:45 | BBC 1
Two of the country’s form sides clash again in a FA Cup 5th Round replay at the Etihad on Wednesday night. In the meeting 11 days ago, Huddersfield put in a solid performance in the original tie against a strong Manchester City line-up.
The Terriers have W14-D3-L1 in their last 18 games in all competitions, powering themselves into third place in the Championship. The key to their success has been closing out tight-fought matches; 18 of their 20 league wins this season came by a margin of just one goal.
David Wagner will be sitting in the stands as punishment for his touchline clash with Garry Monk late on against Leeds earlier three weeks ago. The ban also extends into Town’s top of the table meeting with Newcastle on Saturday.
The German boss has done a brilliant job at the John Smith’s Stadium. The success of this campaign still seems to stem from the survivalist expedition that the squad endured in Sweden last summer. Wagner has urged his side to ‘play with total freedom’ against Man City.
City had the weekend of with the Manchester derby postponed due to their rivals playing in and subsequently winning the EFL Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday. Watching the Red Devils win that event should have given City some drive to win their own domestic cup.
Luck of the draw
A trip to the Riverside awaits the winner of this tie. City will certainly be more focused on their trips to Sunderland at the weekend and Monaco next midweek but a mid-strength Citizens XI should still be expected. The relatively kind FA Cup quarter-final draw presents a golden opportunity to reach the last-four.
Man City are still without Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany, nothing new there. Jesus Navas and Nolito started in the reverse fixture and are expected to return as to rest in-form Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. Kelechi Iheanacho could start in place of Sergio Aguero.
As for the visitors, Joel Coleman should be in goal but Jonathon Hogg, Kasey Palmer and Sean Scannell are expected to be out. Unfortunately Aaron Mooy is on-loan from City so is ineligible. The Australian midfielder has been a brilliant temporary acquisition and will undoubtedly be missed.
Terriers should strike
Huddersfield have a good mix of power and youth. The average height of their predicted line-up being over 6′ and the average age around 25 years-old. In City, they face the fourth oldest side in the Premier League.
I expect that experience will see City over the line, especially at home, but they key statistic is still their abysmal home defensive record. Against Monaco, they were under the cosh for large swathes of the game and in their last 12 matches at the Etihad they’ve kept just one clean sheet, pretty remarkable.
The Terriers have only failed to score in one of their last 10 away games in all competitions. As tends to be the case in my previews of Man City, both teams to score is the bet for me at 5/4 with Betfair. It feels pretty overpriced to me.
22/1 (Betfair) on the away victory means there is plenty of wiggle room in the Asian Handicap markets too, Huddersfield +2.5 is 91/100 with Bet365; with this line even a defeat by two goals for the visitors gives us a full pay-out.
Of course Manchester City away is the toughest task they’ve faced but only if Huddersfield lose by three or more goals will the bet lose; something which has only happened once in 37 matches in all competitions this season for Wagner’s men. They are very good at keeping games tight.