Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: 21 February 2016
Kick off: 16:00
Alan Hansen’s infamous “you can’t win anything with kids” line has been proven wrong many times. City’s EDS were the latest side to invalidate the Scot’s assertion – Ashley Smith-Brown’s goal ensured they would claim a victory in Saturday’s U21 Manchester derby, and as the lads were rubbing more salt into the infected wound that has been Manchester United as a club this season, Jason Wilcox’s U18s were confirmed as the BU18PL North Division Champions.
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) February 20, 2016
So, you can win things with kids; but will they be ‘All Right’ against Chelsea tomorrow? Manuel has made his plans to utilise the academy very clear in the last couple of weeks, meaning the likes of Bersant Celina, Brandon Barker and both Garcias could all start in the FA Cup fifth round tie at Stamford Bridge. Tosin Adarabioyo, Cameron Humphreys and David Faupala, along with the four starlets mentioned above, were all absent from the 1-0 win over United today and are expected to feature at the Bridge with only 13 senior players available to the gaffer.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini commented on the injuries affecting the squad:
“We have just 13 (senior) players available to play. We have to play Champions League on Wednesday. We’ll see the best team we can play on Sunday. Young players have the option and they must take their chances.
“For me the priority is always the next game but we must make an exception now because of so many injuries.”
And after his side’s win at the Etihad Stadium, EDS coach Simon Davies had some words of encouragement for the young boys:
“There will be some boys involved and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll pitch themselves against top Premier League players.
“There will be opportunities for the boys tomorrow at Chelsea and it’s about when the opportunity comes, like it will be at every football club for a young player, whichever way it comes is not really important but you must take it and they are going to have an opportunity tomorrow.”
Chelsea, who do not have a three hour flight to the Ukraine to catch on Monday, have no plans to field a weakened team and are the clear favourites here. John Terry (hamstring) and new man Alexandre Pato (lacking match fitness) will play no part in the clash, but an eleven similar to the one fielded in Paris on Wednesday night, possibly including Oscar who has returned from a calf problem, is likely to be selected. Nevertheless, the talented bunch of lads Manuel has at his disposal will relish such a terrific opportunity and could make life difficult for Hiddink’s side.
And there’ll no doubt be a few experienced heads in the XI to provide some calm. Caballero will start between the sticks and Bacary Sagna, who trained this week, could return to the defence.
The Champions League fixture against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday understandably takes precedence over tomorrow’s trip to southwest London, but I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that this one’s a write off. As I’ve mentioned above, Pellegrini has a talented group of players to choose from and every single one of them will be desperate to prove themselves to both their current and incoming manager.
Let’s hope they seize the opportunity!
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-02-21″ default_css=”true”]