How Manchester City can avoid another FA Cup upset against Wigan

Ben Watson helped the Latics triumph at Wembley last time the two sides met, but Manuel Pellegrini has reinforced a squad full of goals and targeting a huge trophy haul this season
Manchester City are off and running in their quest to win five trophies in as many years after a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final last weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are two games away from another Wembley final, but face a familiar foe in Wigan in the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday.

Wigan sprung arguably the shock of last season when Ben Watson headed beyond Joe Hart to secure a dramatic 1-0 victory in stoppage time in last season’s final, but the Latics have endured their fair share of upheaval since that day.

The cup underdogs were ultimately relegated to the Championship and lost Roberto Martinez - the mastermind of the upset – to Everton, along with James McCarthy, Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and Joel Robles.

Throw in an injury to Shaun Maloney - another key figure in that Wembley triumph – and the retirement of Paul Scharner, and on paper, it should be simple enough for Pellegrini’s free-scoring City.

But Wigan are on a five-game winning streak under City cult hero Uwe Rosler, who replaced the sacked Owen Coyle, and have found goals easy to come by, scoring at least two goals in each outing during that run.

Both managers are likely to have studied last season’s final – Rosler looking for weaknesses to exploit, and Pellegrini to avoid the mistakes made under Roberto Mancini.

City shaded the possession, created more chances and attempted and completed the most passes at Wembley, as was widely expected.

Wigan, however, had a game plan from the start and stretched the play with pace and effective counterattacks early on through Maloney, Kone and Callum McManaman, who curled wide early on after a move involving the trio which saw left-back Gael Clichy caught high up the pitch.

And it was the speed of McManaman on the break through the middle which ultimately saw Pablo Zabaleta pick up a second yellow card after the interval for a last-ditch tackle.

City went close through Carlos Tevez, who combined with David Silva to force a save from Joel, while Nasri also saw a long-range effort kept out.

But Wigan got their goal with extra time approaching, as Maloney sent in a corner and Watson – who is also injured for Sunday’s clash – made a near-post run which was not picked up by Clichy or Jack Rodwell and headed home.

This season, though, City are better equipped to deal with the sort of strategy adopted by Martinez’s Wigan at Wembley.

In Fernandinho, who joined the club from Shakhtar Donetsk last June, Pellegrini has an all-action midfielder who can shield his back four and offer the kind of support to full-backs which was required against Maloney and McManaman last season, as well as launch attacks for his side.

One of the main benefactors of Fernandinho’s arrival has undoubtedly been Yaya Toure. The Brazilian has freed the former Barcelona man to make a telling attacking contribution.

The Ivorian has struck 17 times already this season – eight more than his entire 2012-13 campaign – and most recently notched a stunning curling effort against Sunderland at Wembley.

Meanwhile summer signing Jesus Navas has three assists to his name in the FA Cup, along with Edin Dzeko, who is vying for a place in the side with Alvaro Negredo, who has scored three goals in the competition so far.

And in the fit-again Sergio Aguero, Pellegrini boasts a striker who has scored 26 goals in all competitions this season, including a hat-trick in the come-from-behind fifth round victory over Watford.

Wigan have proved in the past that they are capable of pulling off a shock, but this time around, City could put the FA Cup holders to the sword.

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