Preview | Swansea City v Manchester City
Swansea City face Manchester City this evening in an FA Cup tie that will bring back memories of one of the competition’s most thrilling recent encounters.
It is less than two years since the sides met at the quarter-final stage in March 2019, serving up a knockout classic as the Swans stunned the then Premier League champions by surging into a 2-0 lead.
But Pep Guardiola’s team responded in the second half and – with the help of some controversial decisions – sealed a 3-2 win on their way to a domestic treble.
However, sadly, this will be a very different occasion with fans unable to be present to cheer on their sides and replicate the magnificent atmosphere of two years ago.
The teams are different too. Swansea have established themselves in the upper reaches of the Championship and proved to be obdurate opponents, who give nothing away cheaply to opponents, while possessing the fluency and talent to create and take their chances in the final third.
City, meanwhile, have young fresh blood in a squad that has evolved and is playing a thrilling brand of attacking football.
The Premier League side will start as clear favourites – after all they are on a 21-match unbeaten run and have won the last 14 of those in a row.
But the Swans are on their own 10-match run without defeat, and have not lost in their last 12 games at the Liberty.
Head coach Steve Cooper has urged his players to relish the chance to pit themselves against the best side in the land; there is currently no greater challenge in the British game.
New signing Paul Arriola could be in contention to make his Swansea City debut having arrived from the United States over the last few days.
Midfielder Korey Smith, meanwhile, is nearing a return from a quad injury.
Goalkeeper Ben Hamer is cup-tied, while Liam Cullen, Wayne Routledge, Brandon Cooper, Steven Benda and Tivonge Rushesha face long spells on the sidelines.
The visitors, meanwhile, will be without Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Nathan Ake.
Steve Cooper: “We have to be perfect, there’s no doubt about that, and hope they’re not.
“The term I’ve used to the team is to play with ambition and, when we can, play our way.
“When we get opportunities to play we have to commit to it. We’ve got to be perfect with our game and hope they’re not but we won’t be doing anything too different.
“If you have the right mentality about you and the right mindset, you look forward to thriving on these challenges and that’s what I want us to be.”
Pep Guardiola: “I don't expect a different game from when we suffered there two seasons ago to go through.
“I know Swansea are consistent, score, defensively they don't concede chances, so solid in their formation, physically strong, they have the quality to play up front and in the middle.
“It will be an incredibly difficult test. We have to do a good performance.
“We suffered against Cheltenham in the last round, we were 1-0 down after 80 minutes, I don't expect a different game this time.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City produced a performance of tremendous character, and no little quality, but were denied just a third FA Cup semi-final appearance in heartbreaking fashion by Manchester City in March 2019.
The Swans had stunned the Premier League champions by sweeping into a 2-0 lead inside half an hour to put themselves on course for a first appearance in the last four of the famous knockout competition since 1964.
Matt Grimes converted from the spot for the first, before Bersant Celina finished a flowing Swansea attack against his old club.
The score stayed that way until the 69th minute when Bernardo Silva pulled a goal back with a fine volley, before a controversial penalty allowed City to level.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was harshly ruled to have fouled Raheem Sterling, and Sergio Aguero’s penalty found the net off the back of Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
That left the tie heading for extra-time but, with two minutes remaining, Aguero - who looked to be offside - expertly headed Bernardo Silva’s cross into the net.
3 – Swansea are looking to reach the last eight of the FA Cup for the third time in four seasons, having achieved the feat in 2018 and 2019.
14 – Manchester City have avoided defeat in the last 14 meetings between the sides, with Swansea’s last win coming courtesy of a Luke Moore header in March 2012.
Today we welcome our virtual mascots Ellie Lewis and Nolan Schultz.
Ellie, who is 12 and comes from Swansea, has raised over £12,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Wales over the past two years. Her father suffers with the condition and she has walked more than 870 miles in her fundraising quest.
Nolan, who is 14 and from Wisconsin in the United States, has faced a long battle with a number of conditions including Tourette’s Syndrome, complex migraines and slipped capital femoral disorder.
He has undergone a number of surgeries related to the latter, the most recent coming just last week, but Nolan refuses to let these challenges prevent him enjoying and taking part in the game he loves.
We hope you both enjoy the game.