Mens Team

Jesus and Walker start as Guardiola makes five changes

Gabriel Jesus - season 20/21
Pep Guardiola has made five changes to the side that beat Manchester United on Wednesday to reach the Carabao Cup final.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker are back in the starting XI following their positive Coronavirus test.

Zack Steffen remains in goal, with Ederson returning to the squad and taking a place on the bench.

Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez also keep their place from Wednesday's win at Old Trafford

John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan drop to the bench. 

Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are both injured, while Raheem Sterling, Ferran Torres and Tommy Doyle aren’t fully fit.

Scott Carson, Eric Garcia and Cole Palmer remain in isolation after their positive COVID-19 tests and Sergio Aguero is unavailable.

City team

City XI: Steffen, Cancelo, Walker, Dias, Mendy, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Foden, Mahrez, Jesus

Subs: Ederson, Stones, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Delap, Nmecha, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete

Tactical analysis

City under Guardiola have rarely deviated from 4-3-3.

But in recent weeks, with so many players unavailable for a variety of reasons, we’ve seen increasing fluidity in our system. Players have interchanged positions more frequently, with the lack of recognised central striker calling for new solutions. 

It’s worked superbly - we've won our last five - but, more encouragingly, the quality of performances has increased significantly.

Despite the challenges we’ve faced with players being out of action, our victories at Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United were delivered in style.

Guardiola will not want to see our momentum subside.

Jesus' return means we have a focal point once more, and in defence it looks as though Walker will start at centre-back alongside Dias, with Cancelo and Mendy offering width down the flanks. 

Rodrigo will provide protection in front of the back four, with Bernardo's energy and De Bruyne's guile giving the midfield three plenty of variety. 

And in attack, Foden and Mahrez will support Jesus.

Birmingham

Today’s visitors sit 18th in the Championship table and haven’t won any of their last six matches.

Their last win came away at Reading in early December, and since then they have drawn one and lost five.

Birmingham XI: Prieto, Colin, Clarke-Salter, San Jose, Friend, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, Sanchez, Toral, Leko, Hogan

Subs: Etheridge, Pedersen, Dean, Dacres-Cogley, Roberts, Clayton, McGree, Bela, Jutkiewicz

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Match officials

Referee: Robert Jones
Assistant Referees: Edward Smart & Scott Ledger
Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Graham Scott
AVAR: Matthew Wilkes

Stats and facts

This is the first FA Cup meeting between City and Birmingham since a third-round tie in January 2001, with City winning 3-2 at Maine Road.

Birmingham are winless in their last 12 away games against us in all competitions (D2 L10), with this their first visit since a League Cup tie in September 2011 (0-2).

City last failed to reach the FA Cup fourth round in the 2011-12 campaign, losing at home to Manchester United at this stage in that season. We have won our last five third-round ties by an aggregate score of 23-2.

Since beating Wolves 1-0 in 2011-12, Birmingham have been eliminated from their last seven FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition.


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