Our cup overrunneth… No sooner have we gotten the FA Cup games out of the way then up pops this intriguing League Cup semi-final clash between Manchester City and Bristol City After dispatching Manchester United in the last round, the Robins take on the city’s other footballing superpower as they bid to get one foot in the final.
Can lightning strike twice and the Robins stun the footballing world once again? We preview the merits of both teams and suggest a couple of bets that could see the bank manager dancing with glee!
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...
MANCHESTER CITY 3 V 1 BRISTOL CITY
If ever you could apply a literary reference to a game of football, then it’s surely the opening to a Tale of Two Cities. The Highs. The Lows. The Belief. The Expectation. The Joy. The ecstasy. The Pain. Every gamut of human emotion encapsulated in ninety minutes of pure sporting drama. Feelings the fans of these two clubs know a lot about, having sndured more than their fair share of lows in their time.
However, that’s in the past. Both clubs, relatively speaking are on the up, though Manchester City’s star, financed by an obscene amount of petrodollars, has the quicker trajectory. However, to simply dismiss the current state of affairs as being a result of insane financing would be doing both sets of fans an injustice. They were there when the belts needed tightening, they now deserve to gorge on the riches on display. For all that, this is still a battle of David and Goliath proportions, the ‘haves and have nots’. Not many clubs in world football can match Manchester City’s spending power, so how will the boys from the West Country fare when dining at the top table tonight? Only time will tell, but this has the recipe to be a classic.
We've come a long, long way together,
Through the hard times and the good,
I have to celebrate you baby,
I have to praise you like I should!
It was the best of times… Fans. Dreaming. The Quadruple. A feat no team in English footballing history has ever achieved. Pep Guardiola will quash any talk of the ‘Q’, but secretly must be wondering just what his side are capable. Unbeaten in the league, you fancy The Citizens to beat virtually anybody at home, and with the firepower at their disposal that’s pretty much what they’ve done, scoring goals for fun. However, this side have a lot more about them than fancy tricks, flicks and goals. From the front to the back, they have a bunch of scrappers, hungry for success. This is exemplified in how many games they’ve won from a losing position this term alone. The fact that they ARE fighting on four fronts suggests that Pep will want to put this one to bed in the first leg. Bristol, who harbour an ambition to play in the Premier League themselves, could be about to witness just how brutal a league this can be.
The Robins will welcome this distraction from their current league plight: a 5-0 drubbing by Aston Villa was followed by a 2-1 reversal to Wolves, and then a 3-0 FA Cup defeat at Watford at the weekend, not the best preparation to face quite possibly the best club side in world football! Lee Johnson did rest a few players for the Watford game, possibly with one eye on this clash. That said, shipping ten goals in three games against a team as deadly as City gives cause for concern – after all, the Manchester giants have scored 19 in their last six home games…!
City travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday, so we expect some squad husbandry from Pepe here. Jesus joins Ben Mendy and Phil Foden on the long-term absentees list, though The Citizens could welcome back John Stones. Vincent Kompany is a definite non-starter. Bristol City are expecting to be missing Ivan Lulic, Callum O'Dowda, Jens Hegelar, Gary O'Neil, Famara Diedhiou, and Eros Pisan.
Poss. Man City XI: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Mangala, Zinchenko, Yaya Toure, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Sane, Aguero.
Poss Bristol City XI: Fielding, Magnusson, Wright, Flint, Baker, Bryan, Pack, Brownhill, Smith, Paterson, Reid.
What We Sayin’?
Here's a real quirk for you... the all-conquering, free-scoring Man. City have only scored three goals in this competition, though they’ll surely put that right tonight against a Bristol City defence who are porous, to say the least. You can almost hear Pep’s words ringing out into the cold air “C’mon boys, let’s get this won!”
We expect The Robins to start in the same vein as they did against Manchester United. They will fancy getting on the scoresheet themselves considering Man. City have conceded in five of their last six home games in all competitions. That said, Raheem Sterling has been on fire this term, and in a team of superstars remains their top scorer. Should Bristol City be too ambitious the space afforded him could see him have a field day, tonight!
- BTTS | 13/10
- BTTS, +2.5 goals | 7/5
- Sterling 1st GS | 3/1
- Over 3.5 goals| 4/6
- Bristol +2 | 11/4
- Our scorecast (3-1) | 10/1
Whoever you decide to back, don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@stanjames) as we mark your card with all the latest updates: it's just like being pitchside yourself!
Please do bet responsibly, and the best of luck!
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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