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Chelsea's Kalidou Koulibaly (right) vies with Manchester City's Erling Haaland during their recent English Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge in London. The teams will face off once again in the FA Cup third round on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Manchester City and Chelsea will meet for the second time in the space of just four days when they face off in their FA Cup third-round clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side travelled to Stamford Bridge for Thursday’s English Premier League match which they won 1-0 thanks to a Riyad Mahrez goal. It settled the contest in the champions’ favour but City were put under intense pressure by Graham Potter’s outfit and were made to work for their three points.

Oldest competition

City have closed the gap on league leaders Arsenal to five and although Guardiola is playing catch-up to his old student Mikel Arteta, the league issues will take a break as the focus shifts to the oldest cup competition in the world.

Incredibly, Guardiola has only won the tournament once since taking over as City coach in 2016. That came back in 2019 when they thrashed Watford 6-0 in the final but since then they have had three successive semi-final exits.

Potter – who is under increasing pressure following four defeats from six Premier League games – will take encouragement from his sides display against the English champions who struggled to deal with their slick play. The cup clash will be a welcome distraction for the beleaguered coach whose side are in mid-table obscurity. Blues fans fear for a spot in the top half never mind one of the European places and they will hope they can end a painful spate of FA Cup final losses. They have made it to the last three finals only to lose to Arsenal, Leicester City and Liverpool.

Depleted side

They head to the Etihad without a win in four successive away matches in all competitions and will field a depleted side having lost Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic to injury on Thursday night. They remain without Reece James, Armando Broja, N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will hope for another chance after being brought on for Sterling before subsequently being taken off again on Thursday.

City will be without Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias while Mahrez and Jack Grealish could be handed starts along with World Cup hero Julian Alvarez. Dangerman Erling Haaland will be keen to keep his amazing scoring run going. The 22-year-old striker already has 23 goals this season and Chelsea will be wary of his threat.

As promising as Chelsea’s performance was in Thursday’s loss they have too many key players missing and this could cost them dearly. City should be able to take advantage of this and advance to round four.