Manchester City vs Chelsea: FA Cup Match Preview and Prediction

A spot in the FA Cup final will be on the line when Chelsea and Manchester City clash at Wembley in the first semi-final on Saturday.

The 2023/24 FA Cup is reaching its curtain call, with the semi-finals getting underway this weekend. The first of the two fixtures will greet us on Saturday, with Manchester City and Chelsea locking horns in a blockbuster encounter at Wembley.

Manchester City reached the FA Cup semi-finals by beating Huddersfield Town, Tottenham Hotspur, Luton Town, and Newcastle United. The Citizens have kept three clean sheets while conceding only two goals, meaning they have barely broken a sweat on their journey thus far.

However, Pep Guardiola’s men head into this weekend’s fixture on the back of the defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, going down on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate draw. So, the hopes of completing a second successive treble are over for Manchester City.

As for Chelsea, they have had a much more eventful run to the semi-finals, keeping only two clean sheets while conceding five goals. They have overcome the test of Preston North End, Aston Villa, Leeds United, and Leicester City to reach the stage. Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino and his charges are on an excellent run, as they are on an eight-game unbeaten streak while losing only one of their last 12 matches across all competitions.

Manchester City and Chelsea have clashed twice thus far this season, with both games ending in action-packed stalemates. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Chelsea on Saturday, the Manchester City manager will unlikely be bereft of the services of any first-team player.

However, Guardiola is sweating over the fitness of three pivotal figures, with Manuel Akanji, Kevin De Bruyne, and Erling Haaland recovering from minor knocks. The trio requested the Manchester City boss to go off against Real Madrid and face a race against time to be available for the FA Cup semi-final.

Stefan Ortega will replace Ederson Moraes between the sticks, with Manchester City lining up in a 4-1-4-1 formation in front of him against Chelsea. The backline should feature Rico Lewis, John Stones, Ruben Dias, and Josko Gvardiol, with Kyle Walker dropping out after playing 120 minutes against Real Madrid.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Rodri in the holding midfield berth. Kevin De Bruyne should feature from the get-go, joining Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, and Jeremy Doku in the final third. Finally, Erling Haaland will lead the line for City against Chelsea on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Ortega; Lewis, Stones, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri; Foden, De Bruyne, Alvarez, Doku; Haaland


Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Mauricio Pochettino does not have any new issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Wembley. However, the Chelsea manager has a plethora of absentees.

Reece James, Levi Colwill, Wesley Fofana, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu, and Christopher Nkunku remain on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Robert Sanchez, Axel Disasi, Enzo Fernandez, and Raheem Sterling face a race against time to be available to take on Manchester City.

Chelsea will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Manchester City, with Djordje Petrovic being the automatic pick between the sticks. The backline should consist of Malo Gusto, Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, and Ben Chilwell.

As for the midfield unit, Fernandez’s issue means Conor Gallagher will drop into the double pivot, pairing up with Moises Caicedo in the middle of the park. So, Cole Palmer will have a free role in the final third, with Noni Madueke and Raheem Sterling being the two wide attackers. Nicolas Jackson will spearhead the Chelsea attack on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petrovic; Gusto, Chalobah, Silva, Chilwell; Caicedo, Fernandez; Madueke, Palmer, Sterling; Jackson

Key Stats

  • Manchester City are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with Chelsea, although both games between the two sides in the Premier League this season have ended in a draw. Meanwhile, the Blues have bowed out of the FA Cup in five of their seven most recent ties against City, including in the third round last season. However, Chelsea beat City 1-0 the last time they played them in the semi-finals (2020/21).
  • Manchester City have only progressed from two of their previous six FA Cup semi-finals under Pep Guardiola (2019 and 2023), with three of four defeats coming against London clubs (two by Arsenal and one by Chelsea).
  • Manchester City have won 28 of their last 31 FA Cup matches, including their most recent 10. Chelsea was the last team to win more in a row (13 between 2009 and 2011).
  • Mauricio Pochettino has been eliminated from four of his eight major semi-finals in his managerial career. He lost both his FA Cup semi-finals with Tottenham (2017 and 2018) and his only last-four tie against a Guardiola team (the 2020/21 Champions League semi-final when at Paris St-Germain).
  • Raheem Sterling has scored in both of Chelsea’s meetings with Manchester City this season. He can become the first Chelsea player to score in three games against City in a campaign.

Player to Watch

Cole Palmer

Embed from Getty Images

While Raheem Sterling will look to make history against his former club, Cole Palmer is the talk of the town in English football. Like Sterling, Palmer was once at Manchester City before joining Chelsea. And the youngster has leapt to the top of the scoring charts in the Premier League, thus vindicating his decision to move to Stamford Bridge.

Palmer’s exploits have also helped him force his way into the conversation for being the PFA Premier League Player of the Year. The Englishman heads into Sunday’s game on the back of a four-goal show against Everton. And he will be eager to add Manchester City to his list of victims this term.


Manchester City 3-2 Chelsea (After Extra Time)

There has been nothing to separate Manchester City from Chelsea despite the enormous gulf between the two sides in the Premier League standings. However, the Blues have shown up for several big games, most recently coming from a goal down to beat Manchester United with a late flurry from Cole Palmer.

Palmer will again make his mark to help Chelsea take the game to Manchester City. However, a hurting City will leave no stone unturned to complete a league and cup double in the final month of the 2023/24 season. Expect a rollicking contest, with an ailing Manchester City beating Chelsea by the finest of margins in extra time.

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