City’s FA Cup hopes remain alive and well after a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town. In a largely uneventful game at the John Smith’s Stadium, a draw was probably the right result with neither side doing enough. Now all eyes are on Monaco with the Blues also awaiting potential FA Cup 6th round opponents in tomorrow's draw. Pep Guardiola made eight changes from the side that beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Monday evening with one eye clearly on next Tuesday night. Claudio Bravo, Fabian Delph, Fernando, Nolito, Nicolas Otamendi, Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta were all recalled with only Aleks Kolarov, Fernandinho and John Stones keeping their places. The hosts also made seven changes from the team that beat Rotherham United 3-2 in midweek with a crucial game against Reading coming up in four days. With so many regular starters rested, there was a disjointed, scrappy start to the game. With capacity crowd making plenty of noise, the scene was set for a blood and thunder FA Cup tie, but that never really materialised. Huddersfield had a good chance to take the lead after just five minutes when Rajiv van La Parra sent a placed shot towards goal but Bravo was equal to it. City’s first chance came in 11 minutes as Nolito found himself through on goal but his shot was palmed away and Navas’ follow-up was scrambled off the line. Aguero passed up a good chance on 25 minutes as he chased a long clearance from Bravo, but as the keeper and two defenders raced towards him, he flicked the ball up and then volleyed way over with the Terriers’ goal unguarded. Huddersfield looked dangerous when they did come forward and after a Payne free-kick went close on 27 minutes, Billing saw a goal chalked off for offside a minute later. Delph and Nolito both went close within a couple of minutes just after the half-hour mark and La Parra again forced a good save from Bravo shortly before the break. The longer the game went on, the more it seemed the first goal of the afternoon might be enough to settle the tie. Terriers boss David Wagner elected to bring his star striking due Nahki Wells and Elias Kachunga just before the hour-mark, perhaps sensing it was time to throw caution to the wind and Guardiola followed suit seven minutes later, bringing on Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne. City struggled to impose any authority on the home side who were energetic and well-organised throughout in a game of very few clear-cut chances. The Blues will hope to move into the quarterfinals when the teams meet again at the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio Aguero ploughed a lonely furrow up front at times but he kept plugging away without reward. Not vintage stuff but he tried and was neat in possession so gets the vote of the City Matchday App users.
What it means… The teams must do it all again at the Etihad Stadium - kick-off 8pm on Tuesday, 28 February
What next…? City host Monaco in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday night. It will be a much-changed side no doubt, as the Blues look to establish some sort of advantage to take into the second leg. After that, with next weekend’s clash with Manchester United postponed, the replay with Huddersfield will be next on the agenda.
Huddersfield Town (0): Coleman, Whitehead, Hudson, Billing, Holmes-Dennis, Cranie, Payne (Brown 72), Van La Parra (Kachunga 59), Lolley (Wells 59), Quaner, Stankovic.
Manchester City (0): Bravo, Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov (Sagna 77), Fernando, Delph (De Bruyne 69), Fernandinho, Nolito (Sane 69), Agüero, Navas.