When Chelsea drew Manchester City away in the fifth round of the FA Cup, it was difficult not to be a little bit frustrated. The trip to the Etihad is the most difficult in English football, and when we were assigned it no domestic team had gone there and come away with so much as a draw. Branislav Ivanovic destroyed their perfect record a week later, but the fact remains that this is a very, very tough match.
Then again, if we want to win this cup, we'd have to go up against City at some point anyway, so maybe it's better to get the hard matches out of the way early on. There'd be no shame in crashing out at this stage, and the fact that we're in first place in the league in mid-February while still in Champions League contention means that our priorities might in fact lie elsewhere. Nobody will be that fussed with a battling loss.
Which is good, because although City are suffering from a bit of an injury crisis -- losing Sergio Aguero has left them looking far less incisive than their usual selves -- we are too, and it's likely that we'll be fielding a markedly weakened back line, one which you wouldn't expect to keep the hosts out for another ninety minutes.
This is probably going to be one of those really annoying games, in other words. But it's the sort of annoying game which I'm fine with -- although I don't expect us to win, the consequences for losing aren't so bad that my heart's lying heavy with dread or anything. It's the FA Cup, and we have bigger fish to fry.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea, FA Cup 5th Round
Date/Time: February 15th, 2014. 5:15 pm GMT (12:15pm EST; 10:45pm IST)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England.
TV: ITV 1 (UK), Fox Sports 2 (USA), Star Sports HD 2 (India).
Watch Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go (USA).
SB Nation blog: Bitter and Blue.
John Terry? Out. Gary Cahill? Probably out. Ruh rohs. On the other side of the aisle, Manuel Pellegrini will be without Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, and Matija Nastasic. Javi Garcia and Samir Nasri return from injuries, which ok then.