Manchester City: Picking the Best XI to Beat Chelsea in FA Cup Semi at Wembley

Phil KeidelContributor IIApril 10, 2013

David Silva will be a huge miss for the Citizens against Chelsea if he cannot go.
David Silva will be a huge miss for the Citizens against Chelsea if he cannot go.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Didn't Manchester City just dominate Chelsea a little while back at the Etihad?

Look at the statistics from that match on February 24, per Chelsea had a narrow possession edge. City had significant advantages in shots taken and shots on target, and were the more aggressive side with a 20-5 margin in fouls.

So Roberto Mancini should just run that same rampaging side out against Chelsea again in the upcoming FA Cup semifinal, right?

You know it is never as easy as that.

Straight away the midfield is going to look a lot different than it did the last time these teams met. David Silva is very likely unavailable due to the hamstring trouble he picked up at Old Trafford, per The Guardian.

Jack Rodwell started against Chelsea in February, but soon thereafter he again succumbed to his recurrent hamstring issues. In early March, The Sun reported Rodwell was to be out a month. That month is gone. Still no Rodwell.

Mancini is exceedingly likely to put his trust in Gareth Barry and James Milner, with Yaya Toure prowling the center of the park. For the fourth midfielder in the formation, much as it pains me, it probably needs to be Samir Nasri in Silva's absence.

So the midfield is a bit of a quandary, but as far as the XI on the whole goes, there are a lot of no-brainer selections. Joe Hart will be in goal. Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta will almost certainly be on the back line as they were against United in the recent derby.

Given the overall brilliance of Matija Nastasic's play, it is hard to imagine him sitting, regardless of his youth.

Kolo Toure acquitted himself well enough against Chelsea in February, but it will be hard to find a place for him in this match.

Up top, if Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are healthy enough, they will start. If Aguero is still limited to a substitute's appearance, Mancini will probably have to hope that Tevez and Edin Dzeko can play together like anything other than strangers in a pickup game for once.

The foregoing alchemy gives you: Hart; Zabaleta, Nastasic, Kompany, Clichy; Nasri, Milner, Yaya Toure, Barry; Tevez and Aguero if he is healthy.

Without question, City is going to dearly miss Silva in this match with Chelsea if he cannot play. His geometric-oddity passing is the sort of thing that ties the likes of old Chelsea stalwarts Frank Lampard and John Terry into knots.

This Sky Blues XI without Silva is an eight-cylinder engine with a loose timing belt.

Wounded City partisans who now view the FA Cup as a salve to the pain of losing the Prem to United will have to hope City can find enough goals (one?) to survive.