Manchester City begin their FA Cup campaign with a third-round contest at home to Birmingham City on Sunday at 1.30pm.
The 2019/20 semi-finalists are already through to the League Cup final and can take another step closer to further silverware with a win on Sunday, when the Citizens meet Birmingham for the first time in 10 years.
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Where to watch Man City vs Birmingham on TV:
- UK: BBC iPlayer
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Man City 3-0 Birmingham
Man City vs Birmingham build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Pep Guardiola has previous in this competition, clinching a medal in 2019 as part of an historic domestic treble, and the Man City coach will be determined to try and mirror those exploits from two seasons ago, starting with what has the potential to be a banana-skin fixture against Championship club Birmingham.
Fellow Spaniard Aitor Karanka currently has the reins in the West Midlands and renews an old rivalry; the Birmingham boss was an assistant manager at Real Madrid when Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona. The two now collide under very different circumstances, but the ingredients are there for a classic FA Cup clash.
- Man City (vs Man Utd): Steffen; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sterling, Foden, Mahrez.
- Birmingham (vs Blackburn): Etheridge; Cogley, San Jose, Clarke-Salter, Friend; Kieftenbeld, Sunjic, Leko, Sanchez, McGree; Jutkiewicz.
Ederson, Ferran Torres, Tommy Doyle and Eric Garcia are all currently unavailable for selection for the hosts, but Guardiola could welcome back defensive duo Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte. Birmingham meanwhile are without Alen Halilovic, Gary Gardner and Marc Roberts.
Players to watch:
- Man City: Having returned to make the bench against Man Utd in midweek, Gabriel Jesus could be given a run out on Sunday to build up his fitness, sharpen his focus and refine his finishing. Guardiola has overseen comfortable victories in each of the last three games without deploying a recognised No.9, but Jesus was on the scoresheet in the match just before that run, netting in a 4-1 rout at Arsenal in the League Cup. The Brazilian will no doubt have this summer’s Copa America in the back of his mind and will want to start finding form before the South American tournament, which could start this weekend.
- Birmingham: The spotlight may very well be zeroed in on Birmingham’s defence and how well Karanka’s backline can cope with the world class attacking armoury that Guardiola will throw at them, but the Blues must be competent at both ends of the field if they are to pull off a giant killing and appease the FA Cup romantics. Captain Harlee Dean will look to do the business at the back, but going forward the responsibility to fashion chances and ask questions could fall on Jonathan Leko. The 21-year-old remains West Brom’s second-youngest Premier League debutant and was tipped for big things during his teenage years. Now settled at Birmingham, this weekend’s match against one of the big boys presents an opportunity for the wily winger to showcase his talents and prove he can compete against the very best.
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