Swansea v Man City Tips: Side with City's Spanish striker
The winning juggernaut of Manchester City travel west across the border to Swansea for their FA Cup 5th Round tie, looking to win a 15th match in succession in all competitions.
Such has been Arsenal's dominance in the famous old trophy, Pep Guardiola has only won the FA Cup once since arriving in England but with another relatively kind draw and a seemingly unstoppable run of form under their belts, it's hard to back against the 7/4 price for the Citizens to add to their cup haul by winning the final at Wembley in May.
Changes to the starting eleven that put Liverpool to the sword so convincingly on Sunday are almost a certainty but it should not weaken the City resolve. At a very short 1/5 for the win in 90 minutes, we'll need to delve deeper to find the value here.
With Sunday's first success at Anfield since 2003, Manchester City sit pretty at the top of the Premier League with a 5 point cushion over rivals Manchester United. Confidence oozing, a rock-solid defence and an abundance of talent at the top of the pitch (despite arguably their two best players in Aguero and De Bruyne being unavailable), you wouldn't put it past the Blues to double, treble or quadruple up on their trophies won this season as they plough on winning games in a similar vein and assertiveness that Bayern Munich did last season.
Heading into this tie, Guardiola has referred back to City's last trip to the Liberty Stadium in the 2018-19 FA Cup and the stern test that his side were given. The Blues' progress was only secured via an offside Aguero winner, sealing a comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 late on.
Back then, the Swans - managed by Graham Potter at the time - were adjusting to life back in the second tier following relegation the previous season but their pace and guile caught City off guard in the first half, something they will be undoubtedly looking to repeat on Wednesday.
Now coached by former England youth boss Steve Cooper - who managed the likes of Phil Foden to U17 World Cup glory in 2017 - Swansea have enjoyed a play-off finish in 2019-20 and now sit 3rd in the Championship with the best defensive record in the division.
The Whites squad is still relatively young at an average age of 25 but having made some smart signings, both permanently in the form of joint top scorer Jamal Lowe and on loan with the likes of Conor Hourihane, Cooper has a well-balanced squad that are capable of finishing in the top two this season and returning the Welsh club back to the Premier League.
A cup run therefore could be seen as a distraction, but it's an opportunity for Swansea to test themselves against the pyramid's best team right now and surely has to be seen as a free-hit with the pressure all on their high-flying opponents. If the Swans can replicate fellow Westerners Cheltenham's performance against City in Round Four, it won't be as straight forward for the Premier League outfit.
Whilst it’s hard to say for certain the starting eleven that Pep will go with here, Ferran Torres is one man that is very likely to come into the attacking fold having been in the team from the off at Cheltenham. That night, the 20 year-old got on the scoresheet to round off an impressive display, albeit against League Two opposition.
Although naturally a wide man, the Spaniard has played centrally when called upon this season because of his ability on the ball and threat in front of goal. It is of course common for Pep Guardiola to play wide men/central midfielders in a striker’s position as he has done with Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden during the campaign with Gabriel Jesus not doing quite enough to earn his manager’s trust to start regularly as a number nine.
Jesus should get the nod here but don’t be surprised, like at Cheltenham, if Torres lines up alongside him and drifts wide at times to find possession. With four shots against the Robins, I fancy the man bought from Valencia to get a few efforts away on goal again and the over 2 shots price with WilliamHill looks value to me. Other bookmakers have this at shorter than evens which is about where I would expect it to be against a Championship side.
Given the opportunity, Torres likes a pop from range and with the Champions League knock-out stages to come shortly, the youngster will be eager to impress to try and stake a place in the side for that competition plus important Premier League fixtures.
The 17/20 price for a shot on target, which has landed in 9 of Torres’ last 12 starts, looks decent too, as does Torres to score first which has been boosted to 11/2 with Betfair. The Spain international has scored 12 times for club and country this season and if he starts centrally again, he should be getting in some good positions in-and-around the box to find the net.