When Chelsea drew Manchester City out the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup it was always destined for a prime viewing slot. However, the game’s scheduling has incensed City’s manager, meaning viewers could well be served a dampened spectacle.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men carry the fresher legs into the Sunday teatime contest owing to a clear midweek schedule, (while Chelsea were in Champions League action in Paris on Tuesday), but the tie marks the start of an unenviable fixture pile up for City.
The Citizens are due in Kiev for their own Champions League knockout first leg on Wednesday, before a Wembley date against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup final caps off a run of three matches in seven days.
City were adamant the Chelsea fixture should have been moved, but after the FA stood firm the Manchester Evening News claims Pellegrini will field a weakened team as the Chilean gives priority to his European campaign.
All this means a Chelsea team that thumped Newcastle 5-1 on their last Stamford Bridge appearance in the Premier League, now look fantastic value at 17/20 to end City’s FA Cup journey within the 90 minutes.
Hiddink’s unbeaten record may have been thwarted by a very dangerous Paris St-Germain outfit in Europe, but judging by the Dutchman’s rhetoric, he’ll be fielding his strongest possible side on Sunday.
The Chelsea boss has described the game as a ‘final’ for his side.
Whether or not that line-up contains Eden Hazard remains to be seen, after the largely ineffectual Belgian was hauled off with 20 minutes to go in Paris.
However, his replacement on the night is more than a worthy starter in his place and following a hat-trick last time he featured in the FA Cup, odds of 5/2 on Oscar notching at any time have plenty of appeal.
Depending on the state of the teamsheet Pellegrini submits on Sunday, Chelsea could be a handy 2/1 bet to lead both at half-time and full-time as well.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.