Pep Guardiola’s men travel to Wales this weekend for their FA Cup fourth round tie against Cardiff City.
After flying all season, Manchester City have hit somewhat of a minor (and it must be said, very minor) road-bump in recent weeks.
City recorded their first defeat of the season in all competitions nearly two weeks ago against Liverpool, coming out 4-3 losers in what was a thrilling affair at Anfield.
Wedged either side of that defeat were Carabao Cup semi-final ties against Bristol City. Despite running out winners in both legs – 2-1 and 3-2 respectively – the Citizens were given more than a run for their money by the Championship side who put on stellar performances in both legs.
City will be hoping they can put their recent form behind them and get back to their pre-Christmas selves this weekend when they face Cardiff, but the Welsh side will also be hoping they can cause an upset against the Premier League leaders.
Third in the Championship, Cardiff are enjoying a fine season and have the tools to hurt City if Pep Guardiola’s men aren’t careful – especially via these two stars …
A man who never really fulfilled his potential at Premier League level with both Blackburn Rovers and QPR, Hoilett is enjoying perhaps is best ever season.
The Canadian international is Cardiff’s top scorer this season with eight goals – already his highest ever return in a single season – and has been notching up the assists too, producing six from out-wide, making him the club’s top assister too.
Hoilett is pacy and direct and has the skill to go past players, and this season has developed a habit of getting in the right place at the right time in the opposition box. Expect the 27-year-old to get at Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph on the flanks.
“I think Sol Bamba is slightly better than Van Dijk, defensive wise,” said Neil Warnock at the end of last month. “I think Van Dijk is more confident on the ball and easier on the eye but I don’t think he’s better defensively.”
High, albeit controversial, praise from his manager for the Cardiff City centre-half who has been stalwart in the Blues defence this season. Not only has the Ivory Coast international been a key figure in the heart of Warnock’s back-line that have conceded only 25 goals all season, but he also also chipped in at the other end.
The towering 6ft 3″ centre half has pitched in with three goals this campaign, all from set-pieces, meaning City will need to be wary of his threat from corners and free-kicks on Sunday afternoon.