It was a fairly routine win at Dave Parade as City finally overcame Newport County to the tune of 4-1 as they eased to the quarter-final of the FA Cup. With the only other “big guns” set to face each other tomorrow night, this represents an excellent chance for City to pocket the FA Cup and add it to Pep’s growing list of attainment.
With seven changes from the team’s last match, Guardiola still fielded a frightening starting eleven, but it was clear almost from minute one that the Blues didn’t really fancy the glue-pot multi-purpose pitch which would clearly favour the hosts.
In fact, it took City almost 50 minutes to master the poor surface and after an early fright when Bakinson’s header was well saved by Ederson, City were relieved to get in front when Sane’s drive eluded the clutches of Day to open the scoring.
After untaken opportunities notably by Mahrez, still trying to impress rather than play for the team, the Stockport Iniesta, Phil Foden took it by the scruff of the neck with a run from inside his own half before again, driving home to secure victory.
Newport did get a goal back following a typical piece of harem-scarem defending by Otamendi, to give the commentators their hope of a shock, but within 71 seconds, Foden had restored a two-goal advantage, effectively ending the tie before Mahrez added a fourth.
This was another “cup-final” for Newport and to an extent for City as Pep was forced to shuffle his pack. This pack included Fernandinho, who played for most of the match until City took a full grip.
The Blues can now set their sights on Schalke 04 on Wednesday to try to gain an advantage to bring back to the Etihad before they head to Wembley to play Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final next Sunday.
The games come thick and fast for the Centurion Champions and there is no sign of the match-every-three-days cycle stopping. The size of the squad will play a vital role in the next few weeks especially if City can get their noses in front in the title race on equal matches.
Next weekend could play a vital role in that sequence because while City travel to Wembley, the Strefords host the Scousers. It would be good to go into the Cup Final in the knowledge that Liverpool had shed points but based on the way United played against PSG, how hopeful can we be? While the media drools over Solksjaer’s record of beating the division’s cannon fodder, the first time he came up against anything of quality if was back to the bars.
After yet another fortnight off Liverpen will be a tricky proposition.
From City’s point of view, I would be happy to witness the retention of the Carabao Cup, before moving back to the league and an awkward match against our former manager and West Ham United.