Friday, 8 March 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Barnsley

A potential banana skin for the Champions?

By Aaron Leggott

Barnsley make their first visit to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face English champions Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter final.

It is the first meeting between the sides since September 2004, when a City side that included the likes of Paul Bosvelt and Willo Flood pushed Barnsley aside with ease after an emphatic 7-1 win in the League Cup.

Blast from the past: City celebrate 7-1 win
The current crop of City players are leagues above the old generation, but to expect a similar scoreline to that of nine years ago would be extremely arrogant and foolish.

Following the appointment of David Flitcroft as manager in December, the Tykes have seen a change in their fortunes and are playing some of the best football in years at Oakwell.

However, they know that a trip to Manchester will be anything but easy. The Champions are in great form ever since the defeat to Southampton last month, and are yet to concede a goal in their FA Cup campaign this season.

Roberto Mancini will be without trio Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and Micah Richards for the game, whilst there is also doubts surrounding Carlos Tevez. The Argentinian was arrested last night after driving whilst banned. He was released on bail and will more than likely be in the squad tomorrow.

Barnsley will be hoping to repeat the successful campaign in 2008 when they defeated Liverpool and Chelsea on the way to Wembley, whilst City know that anything other than a win is not acceptable in our biggest game of the season up to now.

My thoughts

Whilst we didn't produce a vintage performance at Villa, it was an important victory and I felt we defended efficiently against a side fighting for their lives. Kolo Toure and Nastasic were both in top form for the third successive game and to be quite honest I have no worries we have more than enough to deal with the threat that Barnsley pose. 

Obviously we will need to watch out for the Rory Delap speciality - the ruthless long throw.. but hopefully the groundsmen will be one step ahead and move the advertising boards closer to the pitch! 

The Tykes top scorer Chris Dagnall will also test our defence and with the away side having nothing to lose, this will likely be a tougher game than the Watford and Leeds games earlier in the competition.

But with this game being our arguably biggest game of the season so far, I'd expect a thoroughly professional performance from our top players to see us progress to the semi-finals.

Prediction: 4-0 City

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Barnsley fan Zoe Cauwood and her thoughts on the upcoming FA Cup tie, as well as her views on Barnsley's fight against relegation.

A lot of things have changed at Manchester City since the sides last met... what do you make of the modern day City?

Zoe: The modern day City are more formidable I think; people fear playing them because it's such a strong and talented side. It's not just a squad of 11 players; it's much more than that. They're a solid unit and that includes the backroom staff, players on the bench and the fans.

You will probably have fond memories of this competition after famously beating Chelsea at this stage five years ago, can you produce another upset and get to Wembley?

Zoe: You never know what might happen at this stage in a competition, just look at how far Bradford got in the Capital One Cup, anything can happen! It comes down to hard work and how well we pull together, and under Flicker (David Flitcroft) we are capable of performing at a good enough level to cause an upset.

What do you make of Barnsley's season so far?

Zoe: Obviously results wise we've not had a great season, but performance wise we've been the best I've seen us, playing attractive and exciting football. It's just a shame we weren't able to get the results. The team and the club have come a long way since Flicker took charge; he has done wonders for the atmosphere around Oakwell and the attitude among the players. Got to admit that despite the league position we're in, I'm really happy with the way we play and the belief amongst the squad, it's great to see!

If you could choose between surviving in the Championship or winning the FA Cup, which would you prefer?

Zoe: Championship survival, no question about it! Winning the cup would be great but I'd much rather we stayed up, it's better in the long run for the club and the town.

Who should City keep an eye out for on Saturday as the danger man?

Zoe: Chris Dagnall has a serious problem, he can't stop scoring! So I'd say he was our main threat, but the way the whole team works together especially with Jim O'Brien working in midfield and Kennedy and Cranie in defence there's a lot for City to look out for. Steele is one of the best when it comes to one-on-ones too, so he's one to keep an eye on! 

Who would you say is City's key player and why?

Zoe: I've heard a lot of talk about Yaya Toure, I think he'll be absolutely pivotal if he plays, same goes for any of the big name players really. The squad is full of world class players; it's hard to pick out a key man when there's that much talent available. 

And finally... prediction for the game?

Zoe: I reckon 2-1 to City, a goal for us will be an achievement; we just want to give ourselves a good name and have fun doing it. We have nothing to lose really, so it's going to be a game in which we try our best to show what we can do. 

Thanks to Zoe for taking the time out to answer the questions and I hope you are a Championship club once again next season!

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You can also follow Aaron on Twitter: @aaron_leggott

You can also follow Zoe on Twitter: @zoebfc

(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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