Manchester City and Chelsea square off once more, this time in the FA Cup. Goal's Brendon Netto discusses why Chelsea's strength in depth may give them the upper hand.
Following the tactical master class from Jose Mourinho we were treated to during the latest ‘El Cashico’ twelve days ago, Manchester City welcome Chelsea to the Etihad stadium on Saturday evening for another round. However, the tactical battle may not be as integral to the outcome of this FA Cup clash as the squad depth of either side.
With both managers undoubtedly planning ahead for their respective Champions League ties, the domestic competition has naturally dropped down on their list of priorities. However, the two clubs haven’t splashed the cash over the years for nothing. Money may not guarantee success but it can certainly get you a squad capable of achieving it.
City and Chelsea comfortably boast the two best squads in the Premier League. Liverpool’s substitute bench is regularly underwhelming while Arsenal’s reinforcements were made to look convincingly inferior against Chelsea’s second string team in the Capital One Cup earlier this season.
A lack of quality squad players can often be the difference and that’s why Liverpool may have the edge over Arsenal on Sunday as they don’t have a European fixture to be mindful of. Arsene Wenger has already stated that Santi Cazorla is ruled out with an illness while admitting that he will have to rest several first team players.
City isn’t a club that will often receive sympathy when it comes to injuries. They have plenty of quality players to step in but Fernandinho has proved to be a significant loss for them. With Javi Garcia injured as well, Manuel Pellegrini had to play a center-back in midfield in Martin Demichelis when they last played Chelsea.
Sergio Aguero’s absence was certainly felt on that occasion while they have been made to do without Samir Nasri who had rediscovered his form this season. Pellegrini also has one eye on the European clash with Barcelona on Tuesday night and will be wary of playing several players like Vincent Kompany or David Silva for instance.
City suffering from injuries to key players
The fact that their midweek tie against Sunderland was called off because of poor weather conditions offered them some respite but City will still need their star players to be at their best when they take on the Catalans.
Team selection will be key and yet again, Mourinho will have the edge in that department as he invariably gets his right. Furthermore, while City may edge Chelsea’s first team for quality, there’s little doubt that the Londoners have the more experienced and accomplished squad players, the likes of Ashley Cole and Fernando Torres stand testament to that.
That’s precisely why this may be the point at which Mourinho’s amusing ‘little horse’ analogy falls apart. Even though Chelsea aren’t at their strongest with regard to the team the Portuguese wants them to be, they are hardly the underdogs in any scenario.
Chelsea's bench consists of seasoned internationals
Consider this for instance – when they faced City earlier this month, Chelsea’s substitutes boasted of 440 international caps between them while their opponents’ bench could only muster 111. That in itself speaks volumes of the quality and experience the Blues have in reserve.
It’s that sort of strength in depth that becomes so vital to teams challenging on several fronts at this stage of the season and Chelsea have it in abundance. Add that to the fact that Pellegrini has only triumphed once in nine meetings with Mourinho and another win for the West London club seems likely.However, the Chilean tactician would certainly have taken something away from his last meeting with the Chelsea boss and it will be interesting to see how the two teams set up especially with the Champions League just around the corner.
|Can Chelsea beat City again? Send in your thoughts in the comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
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