Date: 8th January 2018 at 10:55am
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You wait ages for a home cup tie and then, low and behold, two come along in the space of four days.

Bristol City – a club with history

Founded in 1894, they are nicknamed “The Robins”. Their manager Lee Johnson made 199 appearances for the club whilst his father, Gary, also managed the club taking them to the Championship Play-Off Final in 2008 where they lost 1-0 to Hull City. After many years yo-yoing between the lower leagues they returned to the First Division in 1965 under Alan Dicks after a 65 year absence.

A decline in the early 1980s saw them drop into the Fourth Division and a declaration of bankruptcy with the club in part being saved by several senior players agreeing to terminate their contracts for half the amount due. A period of rebuilding over the subsequent decades saw them back in the Championship in 2007 before they lost the Play-Off final the following season and then under a succession of different managers (5 in 3 years) they slipped away to relegation in 2013. Under Steve Cotterill they revived and won the League One title as well as securing the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy in 2015. Struggles returned though and Lee Johnson took over the manager`s chair in January 2016 with the club bottom of the Championship. They finished 18th that season and whilst the momentum was maintained in the early part of the 2016/17 season their form slipped away and they narrowly avoided relegation.

They currently occupy 4th place in the Championship and have only suffered 6 defeats in all competitions.

Bristol City Celebrity fans

Jensen Button – F1 driver
John Cleese – actor & comedian
Jonathan Pearce – football commentator
Tony Robinson – Actor (Baldrick from Blackadder) & presenter of Time Team
Richard Scudamore – Chief Exec of the FA (good cover for his closet support of the rags “When your most popular club isn`t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places” 2014)
Marcus Trescothick – Somerset & England cricketer

Bristol City connections

Gerry Gow – started his professional career at Bristol City in 1969 making 375 appearances for the club before departing to join John Bond`s Manchester City. Although he only made 26 appearances for the Sky Blues they included the famous 1981 FA Cup Final against Spurs. Sadly he passed away from cancer in October 2016. He was 64 years old.

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Preview

Having dumped the Stretford Galacticos out in the last round and beaten Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Watford in the previous three rounds of the competition, they are not to be taken lightly despite their recent dip in form. Indeed since that famous victory over Moaning Maureen`s ‘underfunded` side, Lee Johnson`s side have only managed one win in five games and have lost their last three matches shipping 10 goals in the process. They were defeated 3-0 at the weekend in their FA Cup 3rd round tie against Watford.

However I am sure that a visit to the home of the current leaders of the Premier League and with the prospect of a trip to Wembley as a prize they may well find another gear and as such City`s players need to be on their guard. As they showed against the Galacticos, they can pick a pass and have some decent finishers – their first goal was a cracker.

Lee Johnson`s side have several injuries to contend with Gary O`Neil, Hegeler, Diedhiou, Pisano, O`Dowda and Lucic all missing and Korey Smith a doubt.

However??.the fact that City have scored 4+ goals in 38% of their home matches this season might well give Lee Johnson food for thought as he makes his decision about how to set up his side. He will be surely be looking for his players to keep them in the tie and give them something to work with in the second leg at Ashton Gate in two weeks time.

For Manchester City??.Pep detests failure, wants to win every game and there will be no hint of complacency around his team. He has insisted that he sees maintaining a challenge in all four competitions as something which is highly improbable??..but he know also knows and values the value of the Big M – Momentum. Winning is a habit and he will not want anything to puncture the mood as City prepare for their latest “Biggest Test of the Season”. Just wait for the media hype to start as the weekend approaches.

Doubtless there will be some rotation and perhaps a few more opportunities during the game for EDS players as Pep keeps one eye on the next league fixture – a visit to Merseyside to take on the scouser`s new hero Super Virgil as they start their latest revision of history and claim the familiar story that they “never really rated Coutiinho”.

Kompany remains sidelined along with Foden after he was clattered by Maguire in the victory over Leicester in the last round. Gabriel Jesus and Mendy continue rehabilitation with their knee injuries. David Silva is likely to be absent as he spends time with Yessica and baby Mateo. I hope he knows he carries our best wishes with him.

So I expect the side to contain more than a few regular first teamers as Pep will want try and get the job done in the first leg if he can. Sergio Aguero will probably continue to spearhead the attack in the absence of Jesus. He produced two great finishes at the weekend after superb combinations with Gundogan and will relish the opportunity to continue racking up the goals as City`s leading goalscorer. I wouldn`t be surprised to see John Stones get some more game time as he continues his return to full match fitness, potentially alongside Mangala. Gundogan is likely to continue and De Bruyne may start alongside Bernardo Silva in the midfield with perhaps Diaz flanking Sergio and one of either Sterling or Sané. After his performance in the penalty shoot out against Leicester in the quarter final I expect Bravo to continue in goal.

Predicted XI

Bravo

Danilo, Stones, Mangala, Zinchenko

De Bruyne, Fernandinho, B Silva

Diaz, Aguero, Sané

Subs

Ederson, Walker, Adarabioyo, Delph, Nmecha, Toure, Sterling

The Officials??.

Referee: Anthony “Wythenshawe” Taylor (YCMIU)
Assistants: Lee Betts; Marc Perry
Fourth Official: Lee ‘Get up son, you`re not injured` Mason

In true keeping with the nature of the club that we love, City are going to ensure that the young Bristol City ballboy Jadon Neale, whom Lee Johnson gleefully swung around after their famous victory over the Stretford Galacticos, is going to enjoy the night.

Jadon and his family have been invited to the Etihad for an all expenses paid trip to the game. He will meet Pep Guardiola and the City players, sit in on interviews and enjoy a stadium tour. His family have endured a tough few years recently – older sister Chloe was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomycosis (a rare muscle wasting disease which has left her in a wheelchair) when she was five years old. A few weeks later his mother Laura was given a diagnosis of breast cancer for which she continues to undergo treatment.

We wish this family all the very best and hope that they get to enjoy a fabulous trip to the Etihad.

It is this sort of thing which make every Manchester City fan proud to say they are a Blue.

Well done Manchester City F.C

 

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