Manchester City’s quest for FA Cup glory begins with a trip to League Two outfit Swindon Town in the third round on Friday evening.
While the Premier League champions will enter the tournament in the third round, Swindon have already seen off Crewe Alexandra and Walsall to make it this far.
windon had failed to reach the third round of the FA Cup for 10 successive seasons before making it this far this time around, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra in round one preceding a 2-1 triumph at Walsall back in December.
Not since the 1991-92 season have the League Two side managed to make it as far as the fifth round, but any hopes of them keeping their cup run going as far as round four will be slim to none when they take to the field on Friday.
Form was not on their side at the end of 2021, as Ben Garner’s side went winless in four League Two games before the New Year, but they kicked off 2022 in barnstorming fashion by seeing off Northampton Town 5-2 at County Ground.
Star striker Harry McKirdy was unplayable on the day as he scored four of his side’s five goals – with fellow number nine Tyreece Simpson also getting in on the act – but Swindon have lost each of their last three FA Cup games at home and are facing an uphill battle to avoid making it four here.
The Premier League and EFL Cup are Pep Guardiola’s bread and butter at this point, but taking Man City all the way in the FA Cup has not been a cakewalk for the Catalan coach, who has won the trophy on just one occasion since arriving at the Etihad Stadium.
Two semi-final exits to Arsenal and Chelsea followed their resounding triumph over Watford in the final of the 2018-19 edition, but not since the 2011-12 season have City bowed out at this stage – with that 3-2 defeat coming at the hands of arch-rivals Manchester United.
There may be scope for Man City to dream about FA Cup glory given that they are riding off into the sunset in the Premier League, with Rodri’s last-gasp winner and Riyad Mahrez’s penalty helping them see off a much-improved Arsenal outfit 2-1 on New Year’s Day.
The Citizens will undoubtedly use this opportunity to hand some of their fringe and youth players a chance to impress, but they are on an 11-game winning streak domestically and will have no intention of becoming another victim of an FA Cup giant killing.
Man City and Swindon’s most recent meeting came 20 years ago in the third round of the 2001-02 FA Cup – with Kevin Keegan’s side winning 2-0 on that occasion for their fourth consecutive victory over the League Two outfit in all tournaments.
Swindon Town FA Cup form:
Swindon Town form (all competitions):
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: Swindon Town 0-4 Manchester City
Manchester City will make a number of alterations in all areas of the field for Friday’s game, but we cannot envisage any other result than a comfortable success for the Premier League champions.
Swindon produced a goal-laden performance at the weekend and will fancy their chances against a youthful backline, but Guardiola will have the big-hitters in reserve ready to make an impact if necessary