Premier League champions Manchester City get their FA Cup campaign under way on Friday evening, facing a Swindon Town side who have proved the success story of this term’s League Two (Match betting – Swindon 14/1, draw 7/1 Man City 1/7).
The Citizens enter third-round weekend on a stellar run of results; having come from behind to see off Arsenal on New Year’s Day, with a 2-1 defeat at RB Leipzig in a Champions League dead rubber remains the only blot on their copybook since October.
Swindon’s chances of inflicting a first domestic defeat in 12 games on Pep Guardiola’s side are slim, but sitting fifth in their division – despite entering pre-season bereft of a manager, CEO and even a shirt sponsor – the Wiltshire club are no strangers to overcoming the odds.
Comments from City’s Thursday press conference may also offer a sliver of encouragement to any Town fans hoping for an upset; seven players figure among the 21 members of the Manchester contingent will be isolating due to Covid-19 – a group that includes head coach Pep Guardiola.
Among those fit, Kyle Walker is expected to make his first start in a month,and will likely be joined in defence by John Stones, plus youngsters Luke Mbete and Josh Wilson-Esbrand. (City to win to nil – Evens)
Having starred against lower-league opposition in the EFL Trophy, James McAtee could feature in midfield.
Saturday’s early kick-offs bring up two all-Championship affairs, as Coventry City host a spirited Derby County (Derby to win BTTS – 15/2), while off-form Fulham travel to Bristol City.
Elsewhere, Burnley will be without isolating boss Sean Dyche for the visit of Huddersfield Town, while Hartlepool will equal their best-ever FA Cup performance should they win at home to Blackpool and Mansfield Town – also of League Two – welcome Middlesbrough.