Manchester City is currently enjoying a strong position in the Premier League as well as Champions Leagur but this, however, should not depreciate the importance given by Manuel Pellegrini to the League Cup. After all, this was his first trophy in English football. The Citizens boast a good opportunity to become champions once againas many top teams like Arsenal and Manchester United have already crashed out of the competition. Liverpool and Everton realistically represent the toughest opposition City might face in this competition – provided they get past Hull.
After dominating the Championship in the opening few weeks of the season, Hull City have been struggling to find consistency of late. After going through the last few months without any defeat, Hull have now failed to pick a victory in their last two games. A 2-0 home defeat against Derby County now sees the team slipping out of the top three. City, meanwhile, just ended a miserable run of three matches, which included two defeats, with a convincing 3-1 victory over Southampton.
Kevin De Bruyne has been the star of many victories already. He has comfortably managed to outshine Raheem Sterling – and indeed many other established players in the City line-up – with his impressive statistics of four goals and six assists in the league. League Cup is often the source of the first-team action for the second string players. Even if the likes of De Bruyne are rested, Pellegrini still has a wealth of talent to call upon and one among them will be David Silva.
Apart from a few matches, Manchester City havn’t really missed Silva much this season. The 29-year-old has been in and out of the team due to a succession of injuries and has made only five league starts this season. One can certainly expect him to start alongside the likes of Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph, Wilfried Bony, and Gael Clichy. This would mean rests for names like Yaya Touré and De Bruyne.
Hull have had some interesting cup results of late. Apart from reaching the 2014 FA Cup final, they also claimed a credible 1-1 draw against City at Etihad Stadium last season. The prospect of entering the two-legged semi-finals will be a huge bonus for the Championship players. Unlike City, Steve Bruce does not have a pool of players at his disposal which means that he will have no option but to field a familiar look to the starting line-up.
Curtis Davies is once again a regular first-team player at Hull after being dropped for poor performances towards the end of last season. Davies has already set his sights on an upset.
Davies on facing City:
“It is a quarter-final of a cup competition, and the onus will be on them to go and beat us.
“If we can spring a little upset – or at least go as far as we can in the game without conceding – then you know you are only one goal or a penalty away from getting through to the semi-finals.
Pellegrini on his team’s form:
“You see that we are in a very good season, but in a week we lost against Liverpool and lost against Juventus, and maybe all of you were talking about the crisis.
“But we continue at the top of the table and are involved in the two competitions that we are playing so far.”