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Mateo Kovacic returns, Kevin De Bruyne remains on the bench – Predicted XI: Tottenham vs Manchester City (FA Cup Fourth Round)



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Manchester City resume their quest for a second consecutive FA Cup triumph with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round on Friday evening.

Pep Guardiola’s side are fresh off the back of a week in Abu Dhabi for a warm-weather training camp, giving the City squad some much-needed recovery time outside of Manchester to reset the batteries.

They will return to the pitch with a tough fixture in a stadium they are yet to score a goal in, never mind collect a victory. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for the Blues, but they will head to London in fine form nonetheless.

The Premier League champions last took the field in a scintillating comeback victory away to Newcastle United, needing an Oscar Bobb stoppage-time goal to collect all three points in the north east, inspired by a starring Kevin De Bruyne performance.

The dramatic winner on Tyneside saw Manchester City move to within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool, but Jurgen Klopp’s men have stretched that lead to five having played one more game than the reigning Champions.

After the week in Abu Dhabi, and a convincing 5-0 victory in the previous round of the competition over Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town, let’s take a look at how Pep Guardiola’s side may set up!

Predicted XI

Stefan Ortega will remain in between the sticks for Pep Guardiola, as he has done for most, if not all of the domestic cup games in the past two seasons.

Kyle Walker will take up his position on the right defensive flank. The club captain has been criticised for his performances as of late, but we will hope some sunshine over the past few days has done the former Spurs man some good.

With recent injuries to Manuel Akanji and John Stones still lingering, despite the latter expected to be part of the travelling squad this week, the centre-back pairing can be none other than Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake.

Josko Gvardiol will man the left flank, as he has done for most of this season.

Rodri. Who else?

Mateo Kovacic will join the aforementioned Spaniard in midfield as an extra body to stop the prolific Spurs counter-attack. A multi-Champions League winner is just the man you need for a big occasion like this.

Phil Foden will remain central after some superb performances in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne this season, with the Belgian expected to start this one on the bench despite Pep Guardiola indicating he could be ready from the start.

Jeremy Doku and Bernardo Silva will provide the balance on the wings, while Julian Alvarez leads the line with Erling Haaland in the team.

Predicted XI: Ortega; Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodri, Kovacic, Foden; Bernardo, Doku, Alvarez.

Substitutes: Ederson, Lewis, Stones, Gomez, Nunes, De Bruyne, Hamilton, Bobb, Grealish.