This season has been undeniably tough and, ahead of today’s FA Cup tie against Manchester City, we are clearly massive underdogs. With our current position in the Premier League, I’m sure that many fans aren’t too worried about the FA Cup this year. I believe, however, that a win today could do wonders for our season.
This competition was particularly special to us last year, of course. We somehow found ourselves in the final for the first time in fifteen years and, although we were thoroughly humbled by Arsenal that day, the FA Cup provided me with a lot of fond memories. This time around, we’ve stumbled into the fourth round. We needed two games to get around Wycombe Wanderers and now have to somehow get past big-bucks City. We’ve got no chance, right? Wrong.
Pellegrini’s men are coming off the back of a highly controversial and unconvincing victory mid-week against Everton. With a trip to Wembley therefore already booked, I would not be suprised to see an unusually weak Manchester City side today. Having said that, their combined worth will inevitably be comparable to that of a small island. The thing about having a stupid amount of money to play with is that you don’t run out of big names. I still expect they will arrive at Villa Park not all that fussed about the competition, very confident of a walk-over win and therefore very vulnerable.
On the other hand, I think that Garde recognises what a win could do for our season. Coming off the back of some good performances, a win against City would have Villa Park absolutely rocking. It might also just make the team believe that they could do the impossible. Whilst no points are at stake, getting a feel-good factor around the club is just as important – and it’s been conspicuous by its absence this season.
I expect us to play a very strong team today and try to push for a win rather than a replay. I just don’t see us grinding out a result at the Etihad and, even though I recognise our slim chances of progressing even on home turf, I hope for a good performance. We can’t lie down and let the Citizens play us off the park. If we stay in the game and frustrate them, I honestly believe that we might just get a result. A run in the FA Cup would be invaluable right now, both for the fans and the players, which is why today’s game is so important.