Tuesday night threw-up some really big surprises, with English giants Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Stoke City FC, and Sheffield Wednesday FC.
While Chelsea FC have been facing a victory-drought, since the start of the season, and have been losing a lot of matches, Arsenal FCa s loss (ironic as it may sound) seems to be a bolt from the blue, as the Gunners have been on a good run of form.
Premier League table toppers Manchester City would be weary of the fact that the Capital One Cup has thrown up a few too many surprises in the Round of 16, as they prepare to welcome high-flying Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium, on Wednesday.
Manchester Citya s ability to grind out results
Palace is one of the strongest oppositions that Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrinia s men could have faced in the Round of 16, and the Chilean has rightly come out and said that he would be playing his strongest available side in the cup tie.
Manchester Citya s weekend derby against arch-rivals Manchester United was a bit of a drab 0-0 draw, but the result will suit the former just fine, as they are still at the top of the table (albeit by virtue of goal difference).
Pellegrinia s side have shown the ability to grind out the desirable results this season, and Sundaya s Manchester Derby was a classic example of that. That is why, Manchester City are the clear favourites to win this match. In fact, City did just that, when Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench, to score a stoppage time winner against Crystal Palace, in their previous meeting, last month.
Injury crisis and fatigue at the Etihad
Manuel Pellegrini has had his options reduced with injuries to crucial players, something that could come back to haunt them, as they take on a quality opposition in the form of Alan Pardewa s Crystal Palace.
Pellegrinia s options have been shortened in every department, with defender Gael Clichy, midfielders Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph, and striker Sergio Aguero, all being sidelined because of injuries.
However, Pellegrini has a huge squad at his disposal, and could call up a number o players, for this game. Another issue that the City boss would be trying to address is that of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne being overworked.
The Belgian has been at the Manchester club since August, and has already played 14 macthes for club and country since then. The Belgian international looked a bit tired and out of ideas in the previous match against Manchester United.
This could turn out to be a bit of a problem for Pellegrini, as the only other playmaker in his squad is David Silva, who is also doubtful with an ankle injury. The fact that Fernandinho is suspended, also compounds the midfield crisis for Pellegrini, as he would not have anyone to support Fernando in the middle of the park, if he pushes Yaya Taoure up, to play behind the striker. One obvious option that Pellegrini has, is that of playing with two forwards, pairing the regular Wilfried Bony with the 19-year-old Iheanacho, who scored the winning goal against Palace, when these two sides last met.
Crystal Palace with injury woes of their own
Alan Pardew might be putting up a brave face and saying that facing both Manchester City (Wednesday) and Manchester United (Saturday) in the same week is good for the side, but his team have been on a poor run, something that would be even harder to fix, because of these tough matches.
In fact, Crystal Palace have lost both of their last two matches against West Ham United and Leicester City. Their next three matches are against Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool, by which time, Pardewa s men could find themselves staring down the barrel of a fifth successive defeat, if they do not pull-up their socks.
Even Crystal Palace have their injury problems up front though, with Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh, all being out with injury. On good news for the former Newcastle United manager is that Dwight Gayle would be returning to the side, after being suspended in their all-important Premier League fixture against Leicester City.
However, their main man, undoubtedly would be French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who surprisingly is the cluba s current top scorer, with four goals. In fact, Cabaye has lead the Palace side in almost all aspects of the game, as he has made the most number of tackles (3.7 per match), from the Palace squad.
A victory at the Etihad on Wednesday would certainly put Crystal Palacea s season back on track, but the main question from this match, is: who would Pellegrini choose to play, and who is going to be rested on the Blues bench?