Manchester City welcome Southampton to the Academy Stadium for the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Thursday and there’s plenty to discuss.
Goals, goals, goals
We have to start with the incredible statistics racked up by Lee Carsley’s side so far this season. City have a whopping goal difference of +40 from just 17 matches in the U18 Premier League so far this season, far ahead of southern leaders Chelsea with +25.
An aggregate score of 7-1 from City’s two FA Youth Cup ties so far this season suggests the goals aren’t simply restricted to the league either.
Mixing it up
Boss Lee Carsley highlighted the difficulty of picking an eleven out of such a vastly talented squad after last week’s victory over Liverpool which begs the question: will he rotate?
To change a side that overcame another challenger for the crown so comfortably would be a big statement from Carsley. With an U18 Premier League match against Newcastle to consider on Saturday, could the boss look to use that match to make alterations or will it happen tonight?
Okay, they may have fallen to defeat in last season’s Youth Cup final but City are still on an incredible run of form. They are yet to taste the bitter pill of defeat in any competition this season and their last U18 Premier League defeat was way back in November 2015.
A record like that must strike fear into any side visiting the City Football Academy, even one with the excellent reputation of Southampton’s youth set-up.
Southampton are unlikely to be daunted with the long trip to the City Football Academy, having already made similar journeys twice in this season’s tournament. The Saints have seen off two of City’s neighbours in Manchester United and Wigan Athletic with a pair of 2-1 victories.
All eyes on them
Much of the U18s season tends to happen in front of relatively few spectators but that’s not the case in the FA Youth Cup. The further through the rounds a side goes, the more interest there is.
With an Academy Stadium crowd and many more expected to be watching on Facebook Live, it’s a marvellous stage for City’s young talents to show what they have.
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