Manchester City will start their title defence in the FA Cup with a clash against League Two side, Port Vale on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium

The FA Cup returns with its third round of fixtures and current holders, Manchester City will face League Two outfit, Port Vale, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as they begin the defence of their title.

Pep Guardiola’s men are coming to this game fresh from winning against Everton in the Premier League and will look to continue that form in the FA Cup in the process of their title defence. The Manchester City boss may run a few changes to the team and may give opportunities to younger players.

Meanwhile, Port Vale have been in a decent run of form and have been unbeaten in their last five league matches, albeit winning only one of them. The Valiants are currently languishing in 11th position in the League Two table and it will be a monumental task for them to even restrict Manchester City from a humiliation.

So as FA Cup returns to the fold for Port Vale and ahead of Manchester City’s first game in the competition this season, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams before the match on Saturday.

Tactics & Team News

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola can include some youngsters in the starting eleven, but he is likely to keep the core of the team strong even in this cup tie. The Citizens are without their long-term absentees, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte. Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, may walk into the side after being rested against Everton.

Pep Guardiola is likely to field his team in a 4-3-3 formation, with Claudio Bravo remaining constant between the sticks. Fernandinho will lead the backline alongside young defender Eric Garcia at the heart of the defence. Kyle Walker should return to the side while Angelino is likely to slot in the left-back position.

Phil Foden may keep his place, but may just drop down to a role in midfield, partnering Ilkay Gundogan and the fit-again David Silva. Raheem Sterling should return, with Bernardo Silva playing in a more advanced role on the right flank, with Aguero leading the line for Manchester City.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Garcia, Angelino; David Silva, Gundogan, Foden; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling

 Manchester City

Port Vale

John Askey will be mindful of the threat that Manchester City poses as a team and will field his team accordingly. League Two outfit Port Vale will have a huge task in hand, but they will look to play for pride and take heart from their current league form.

Emmanuel Oyeleke and Adam Crookes are the long-term absentees and are not available for this fixture. Askey may field a similar team to the one which drew 2-2 against Macclesfield Town, with Scott Brown being their mainstay under the bar. In defence, the four players who are likely to feature in the match are James Gibbons, Leon Legge, Nathan Smith and Cristian Montano.

In midfield, Jake Taylor has been Port Vale’s most influential player this season with six goals and will again be key against Manchester City. Partnering Taylor, there will be a mixture of experience and youthful exuberance, with Luke Joyce and Scott Burgess providing him company in the middle of the park.

The front three are likely to remain unchanged, with former Liverpool trainee, David Amoo and David Worrall providing the required width in the flanks. Richie Bennett will shoulder the responsibility of leading the line and scoring goals.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Brown; Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano; Taylor, Joyce, Burgess; Amoo, Bennett, Worrall

Port Vale

Key Stats

  • This is the first FA Cup meeting between the two sides since Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Port Vale way back in January 1991.
  • Manchester City have a 100% record in their FA Cup home games under Pep Guardiola and those wins have been very convincing, with City maintaining an aggregate score of 21-2.
  • Port Vale have not defeated a Premier League side in their last eight attempts (D3 L5). Their last such win came against Everton in a fourth-round FA Cup replay in February 1996.
  • Among the 57 opponents Manchester City have faced at least 20 times in their history, their best win percentage has come against Port Vale (18 wins in 23 games – 78%).
  • Port Vale have faced the FA Cup holders twice in their history and eliminated them both times – Blackpool in 1953-54 and Everton in 1995-96. The Valiants are the only team to face the holders of the FA Cup more than once and eliminate them each time.

Player to Watch

Sergio Aguero

Guardiola's go-to man. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Guardiola’s go-to man. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The Argentine has been the player of the decade for Manchester City and one of the greatest in Premier League history. Aguero’s name is always taken in the same breath as some of the other greats of the game from the current generation.

However, his recent form has not been the greatest and since his injury, Pep Guardiola has managed his game time with case. It is now time for Aguero to re-establish himself and help Manchester City in the second half of the season, with a lot still at stake.

Aguero has been relentless in front of goal this season, averaging a strike every 85 minutes in all competitions. So if he starts, we can expect fireworks from the veteran striker, an outing which may pave his path back to fine goalscoring form.


Manchester City 4-0 Port Vale

Anything less than a big win will be a huge boost for John Askey’s Port Vale side. This will be a learning curve for the players to face such big stars and one of the best teams in world football currently. The Valiants have to play out of this world to expect anything out of this game. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a dominant start for Manchester City in their FA Cup title defence.

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