How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Chelsea in FA Cup Fifth Round Showdown

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How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Chelsea in FA Cup Fifth Round Showdown
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
A renewal of hostilities with Chelsea is sort of the last thing City needs right now.

Even when Manchester City get lucky, it comes with a catch.

Manuel Pellegrini's exhausted, injury-struck side caught a big break this week when gale-force winds caused the club and Manchester authorities to postpone the Sky Blues' midweek Premier League match with Sunderland:

City were going to be without three key players against the Black Cats (Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Samir Nasri). The postponed match has yet to be rescheduled, but those players will probably be healed by the time City can fit the makeup date into their crowded schedule.

Which is where the catch comes in.

Per an ESPNFC.com report, "City have already played 37 games this season and have a minimum of 17 more matches. Should they reach the finals of both the FA Cup and the Champions League, the club will play at least 62 competitive games this season."

As a result, finding a new match date that works for City, Sunderland and the greater world of football may get very thorny: "UEFA does not approve of domestic matches being played on the same night as European games, although the Premier League has insisted it is sometimes unavoidable."

So, City and Pellegrini are faced once again with a match where three true outcomes are possible and two of them are bad.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Mourinho has outdueled Pellegrini twice already this season.

Chelsea return to the Etihad to face City for the third time this season. No points are at stake this time, which is just as well for City since Chelsea took all six Premier League points in the first two meetings between the clubs. Instead, City and Chelsea will square off for a berth in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Losing to Chelsea for a third time this season (and a second time at home) is not the spiritual boost the recently punchless Citizens much need right now. Especially if Chelsea keep another clean sheet.

Arguably worse than a loss, though, would be a draw and a replay at Stamford Bridge.

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City have shown fairly conclusively this season that they do not match up with Chelsea all that well. Tacking another physically demanding match against a difficult opponent onto an already clogged schedule of fixtures is about the worst thing City could do in this fifth round FA Cup match.

Of course, the best result of all would be a restorative, decisive victory over Jose Mourinho's side. City would love to keep one of their four trophy chases alive at chief Chelsea agitator Jose Mourinho's expense.

City's predicted XI against Chelsea: Costel Pantilimon, Gael Clichy, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas, Edin DzekoStevan Jovetic.

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