After reaching the Carabao Cup final on Wednesday night, attention turns to a more elusive trophy on Saturday when the Blues face Burnley in the FA Cup fourth round.
Not since that famous day in 2011 when Yaya Touré’s Wembley goal against Stoke ended over three decades of hurt have City lifted the famous FA Cup and it is a trophy Pep Guardiola would love to add to his extensive collection.
Pep rested much of his first team squad against Burton, but still has the Premier League trip to Newcastle next Tuesday to think about, which could impact his team selection. Burnley visit Old Trafford to play Manchester United on Tuesday and Sean Dyche has already confirmed that he’ll make plenty of changes with the priority being the league.
Here’s how we see City lining up when they host Burnley.
Guardiola said on Friday that every outfield player except Vincent Kompany is in contention to play against Burnley. He was non-committal on if Mendy will play again after getting his first post-injury minutes against Burton.
The boss did say no academy players will be involved after their call-ups during the week. That excludes the likes of Foden and Muric, who are considered first-team players now.
One of the surprises in the 7-0 drubbing of Rotherham in the previous round was the inclusion of Ederson. Guardiola, like others before him, has always opted for a second choice goalkeeper in domestic cups, but the fact that Aro Muric was penciled in the start days later against Burton may have affected the decision. Muric started against Burton days ago, and with that in mind, it would seem Ederson will be in net against the Clarets.
At the back, we can expect plenty of changes from the week. Kyle Walker was rested against Burton with Danilo again putting in a good shift in his place, so the Englishman should be fit and ready to line up. On the other flank, Guardiola now has four options: Mendy, Zinchenko, Delph and Danilo. Mendy isn’t going to start yet so we’ll rule him out. Danilo has been Pep’s preferred left-back for the past two league games, which could mean he starts there against Newcastle and gets a rest on Saturday. That leaves Delph and Zinchenko, and we’ll go for Oleksandr Zinchenko since it has been quite some time since Fabian lined up at left-back and it begs the question of if Pep has gone off him in that position.
Vincent Kompany has been struggling with fitness issue that have kept him out since he started against Liverpool at the beginning of January. Guardiola spoke of Nicolas Otamendi being unhappy about a lack of game time and after giving him 90 minutes against Huddersfield, we foresee him starting against Burnley. Partnering him we’ll go with John Stones ahead of Laporte, but it’s a bit of a coin toss.
Fernandinho should again be rested at the weekend, just like he should at any possible opportunity. Ilkay Gundogan was among those rested in the week and is in line for a start. De Bruyne could start again as he seeks full fitness, but it’d be a surprise, and we’ll instead go for David Silva and Bernardo Silva to make up the rest of the midfield. Another run-out for Foden would be nice, but Guardiola is being careful with the teenager, hence benching him against Burton in the Carabao Cup first leg so that he could play the full 90 minutes days later against Rotherham.
Going forward, Riyad Mahrez is likely to get another start as he tries to build up some consistency. One of Leroy and Raz will partner him and our prediction is Leroy Sané on the left with Mahrez on the right. After Sergio Aguero played (and scored) against Burton, Gabriel Jesus is our final pick for the starting XI.
The substitutes bench for cup games is never easy, but we expect it to be something like: Aro Muric, Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero.