FA CUP – Man City v Leeds U

Manchester City v Leeds United – Sunday 17th January – Etihad Stadium (16:00)

Gareth Barry

Gareth Barry

The FA Cup has reached the fifth round with 16 teams looking to book their place in the quarter-finals. There aren’t any mammoth clashes but one that does look intriguing is the match between champions Manchester City and Championship side Leeds United on Sunday. City have gone through a bad patch of form that has practically seen them surrender the league title to rivals Manchester United while Leeds United are seen as the giant killers after knocking Tottenham Hotspur out of the cup in the fourth round and also upsetting some bigger teams in the Capital One Cup this season.

Roberto Mancini’s side fell 12 points behind city rivals Manchester United in the race for the title with a humiliating 3-1 defeat away to Southampton last Saturday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side capitalized by dispatching Everton with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday. City are therefore preparing to host Neil Warnock’s men knowing that defeat would effectively end their hopes of silverware this term, after crashing out of the Champions League group stage and the Capital One Cup towards the end of last year.  City’s fate was sealed by a dismal defensive display, with England defender Gareth Barry at fault for two of Southampton’s goals.

First his surrender of possession led to the opening goal in the seventh minute. Then Barry turned an over hit cross into his own net for Southampton’s third goal. In between those two blunders, goalkeeper Joe Hart let a shot through his legs, allowing the Saints to score from close range. It was a desperate defensive performance, and the margin might have been wider had Southampton been awarded a clear penalty in the moments before half-time, after Yaya Toure flattened a Southampton player, only for referee Martin Atkinson to remain, somehow, unimpressed. While United and City each have lost just three times, the difference comes as City has posted eight draws to United’s two. It took an 85th-minute goal by Pablo Zabaleta for City to make the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Stoke.

Leeds knocked out Spurs with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Elland Road to set up this fifth round clash against the Premier League champions. Neil Warnock’s side took the lead in the first half thanks to a goal from Luke Varney after poor defending from Spurs and they doubled their lead shortly after the break. Ross McCormack got the goal in spectacular fashion in the 51st minute, and although Spurs pulled one back through Clint Dempsey seven minutes later, the hosts held on for a famous win. Leeds’ frustrating season in the Championship was encapsulated last Saturday with a 2-2 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The two goal scorers from their FA Cup victory, Luke Varney and Ross McCormack, got the goals to put Leeds 2-1 up but some sluggish defending ended with Wolves equalising in the dying minutes.

Attacker El-Hadji Diouf was rested but should start here given his Premier League experience. Like their opponents, 11th placed Leeds have just one win in their last four matches. But despite the decline in their fortunes, they have still sprung a few recent cup shocks, beating Everton and Southampton in the Capital One Cup this season and, as a League One club, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2010.

Leeds will be pumped up here and will certainly cause Manchester City some problems. However, City’s record at home is too good to see Leeds getting a win. The draw is tipped for the value bet of the weekend. 

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