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man city 2 1000x500In all my years of watching football there haven’t been too many occasions when we’ve played a side in successive seasons in the FA Cup. It happened in my first three seasons as a Burnley fan when we came up against Spurs, in the mid-90s it was Walsall and more recently we went out in successive seasons against Arsenal.

Having beaten Barnsley almost three weeks ago I think we all sat watching the draw for the fourth round thinking there were some potentially good ties we could get and some potentially not so good. I think the one we got just about fell into the category worse than those not so good. It means we have to go and play an away game against the best team in the country. I know they aren’t top of the league and I know Liverpool fans would dispute that, but I still think they are the best and certainly the most difficult to play against.

Our first two visits to the Etihad both ended in outstanding draws. There was the 3-3 draw under Owen Coyle in 2009 when Kevin McDonald scored a late equaliser and then in our next Premier League season we came from two behind to draw 2-2. Ashley Barnes was absolutely brilliant that afternoon and deservedly scored the equaliser.

Since, it has been more difficult. We lost the next one 2-1 but since then we’ve suffered 3-0, 4-1 and 5-0 losses against a team who don’t lose games very often.

We haven’t won away against Manchester City since Colin Waldron won us the FA Charity Shield in 1973. That was at Maine Road where, of course, we enjoyed an even more memorable victory in 1960.

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One of our squad has won there and I expect him to play tomorrow. Ben Gibson was in the Middlesbrough team that beat Manchester City in the fourth round four years ago. Like tomorrow’s game, it was at the Etihad and they won 2-0. Kike got a stoppage time second but the first goal was scored by Patrick Bamford who played up front that day alongside Jelle Vossen.

Recalling that game, he admitted it wasn’t an easy win. “We sort of hung on really for 88 minutes and nicked a couple of goals when they were going for it. It was a fantastic opportunity. It was a great atmosphere, a great occasion for us and that day we took it.”

Looking forward to tomorrow, he said: “Yes, we know we’re going there as underdogs but we’re going there with a positive attitude. Lately we’ve been playing well with some good results and good performances and we believe we can cause an upset.”

The team news will be interesting. I can see any number of changes from the team that drew at Watford a week ago with the likes of Nick Pope, Stephen Ward and Steven Defour getting more game time as they make their way back from injury. Alongside them we will probably see such as Kevin Long, Gibson, Matěj Vydra and Sam Vokes, none of whom have been in the league team recently although all those seven played in the last round of the cup when we beat Barnsley. And Robbie Brady is also back in contention having served a three match ban.

As was the case for the Barnsley tie, Sean Dyche is hampered by the fact that both right-backs, Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton, are doubtful. I don’t think either will be risked and that could see James Tarkowski playing right-back again as he did in the Barnsley game. Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson is also not likely to feature having again been rated doubtful.

The team could be: Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Steven Defour, Dwight McNeil, Matěj Vydra, Sam Vokes. Subs from: Tom Heaton, Joe Hart, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood.

Manchester City sneaked into this round with a 7-0 home win against Rotherham. After the game, Rotherham boss Paul Warne commented that his quickest player on the day was slower than City’s slowest.

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They had seven different scorers that day. One of them was an own goal but the six City players to find the net were Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus (pictured), Riyad Mahrez, Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sané.

City’s team was: Ederson, Kyle Walker, John Stones (Danilo), Nicolas Otamendi, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ilkay Gündogan, Kevin de Bruyne (Phillipe Sandler), Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling (Leroy Sané), Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez. Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Fernandinho, Aymeric Laporte, Bernardo Silva.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Yes, just over a year ago when we last played them in the FA Cup and although we lost the game 4-1, it did take City almost an hour to get any control.

Ashley Barnes scored the first goal of the afternoon midway through the first half and we held that lead until the 56th minute. Then, Sergio Agüero scored twice with Leroy Sané and Bernardo Silva adding further goals.

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On this occasion, Sean Dyche made very few changes from the league team and we did ever so well until referee Graham Scott incredibly allowed City to take a quick free kick from which Agüero equalised. Once he’d netted again there was never any way back for us. At the time I commented that their second and third goals were brilliant. Having seen them again my mind hasn’t changed at all.

In summing up, I wrote at the time: “It’s from the sublime to the ridiculous, or the other way round, losing last season in the competition to a non-league team who we allowed to wind us up, to this a year later. We’d played well for nearly an hour and then went out to a side who were just simply brilliant.”

The teams last season were;

Manchester City: Claudio Bravo, Oleksandr Zinchenko (Kyle Walker 72), John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Danilo, Ilkay Gündogan (Kevin de Bruyne 76), Fernandinho, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero (Bernardo Silva 79), Leroy Sané. Subs not used: Ederson, Eliaquim Mangala, Brahim Diaz, Yaya Touré.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Jon Walters 75), Jack Cork (Nahki Wells 69), Ashley Westwood, Ashley Barnes, Jeff Hendrick, Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Dean Marney, Steven Defour, Fredrik Ulvestad.

 

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