The football gods are doing their level best to hand the FA Cup to Manchester City this season.
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A home tie against Barnsley in the quarter finals doesn’t get any better and the only thing that Roberto Mancini has to guard against is complacency.
City have brushed aside Watford, Stoke and Leeds to reach the last eight of a competition which they won two seasons ago before setting their sights on the Premier League title last year. However, the Citizens don’t look like catching Manchester United this time around and that means this piece of silverware is important to an ambitious club.
Perhaps it will be the last trophy that Mancini wins at the Etihad considering there are rumours about the Italian leaving in the summer, although he should see his team stroll to a comfortable victory on Saturday evening.
Barring a miracle, City will win this game doing handstands and the best price about a home win is 1/7 with Ladbrokes. Manchester United are the only team to have won at the City of Manchester Stadium this term and that includes Champions League opponents such as Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
Even the HT FT odds are prohibitive, with the bookies expecting the English champions to be on their way to Wembley come the interval and no bigger than 4/9 is on offer (Paddy Power) that City oblige at the break and the final whistle.
Barnsley are struggling at the wrong end of the Championship and are a club with modest resources compared to their opponents. The Tykes have won five times on the road this term although David Flitcroft could be facing a losing battle to keep them in the division after Keith Hill was given his marching orders earlier in the campaign.
Nevertheless, we have seen Oldham trouble Premier League opponents and Barnsley will draw confidence from the fact they beat Burnley and won at Hull before triumphing at MK Dons to set up this money-spinning quarter final encounter.
Flitcroft will now look to engineer one of the biggest cup shocks in history and BetVictor lay 20/1 for anyone who thinks this might happen, while the visitors are an 8/1 chance with the same firm to get the tie back to Oakwell which would feel like a victory.
However, City were unforgiving when beating Leeds United 4-0 and a similar scoreline could be on the cards here. Indeed, the 4-0 scoreline is priced shorter than 1-0 and it could be worth chancing the 5-0 at 16/1 and 6-0 at 30/1 considering that Mancini’s men can ensure the floodgates open if they get an early goal.
Edin Dzeko could be let loose on the Barnsley defence and might merit a bet at 20/1 to bag a hat-trick, with the Bosnian boasting an excellent goals to games record in a City shirt.