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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Sterling can prove his worth for Manchester City

Wigan should be outclassed in FA Cup tie

Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal at Cardiff
1 of 1

FA Cup fifth round
BBC1, 7.55pm Monday

Wigan have eliminated two Premier League clubs from the FA Cup but Manchester City are an entirely different proposition than their previous top-flight scalps Bournemouth and West Ham.

City, still on course for an unprecedented quadruple, know a home tie with Southampton is waiting in the quarter-finals so it's increasingly likely they will be heading back to Wembley after Sunday's League Cup final against Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola may well rest a few players given the cup final on the horizon and should Sergio Aguero be one of those to be given a breather it could play into the hands of Raheem Sterling first-goalscorer backers.

Sterling has highlighted his qualities throughout this season, scoring 20 goals in total, and his last strike on the road came as a striker when Aguero was rested in the fourth round at Cardiff.

It could be a similar story at Wigan, particularly as Guardiola possibly gave hints towards his thinking for this encounter when substituting Sterling 57 minutes into Tuesday's 4-0 Champions League victory Basel while Aguero played 85 minutes in Switzerland.

In terms of the result it probably does not matter which starting 11 Guardiola goes with given the sheer depth of quality in his ranks.

The Premier League leaders, 16 points clear of a classy chasing pack, have suffered only two defeats all season and one of those barely counts as it came away to Shakhtar in the Champions League when qualification had long been secured.

Nine goals have been scored in their last two wins over Leicester and Basel and third-tier Wigan find themselves facing their toughest test of the campaign during a sticky spell for them in Sky Bet League One.

Paul Cook's men suffered back-to-back league losses for the first time this term against Southend and Blackpool, while their Bournemouth and West Ham victories don't count for much against a team such as City.

Big guns kept apart in FA Cup quarter-final draw

Bournemouth headed to Wigan with a mix-and-match side shorn of most of their biggest hitters and West Ham were nowhere near full strength even before Arthur Masuaku's red card.

Cook's side like to dominate possession and are an attacking team who are easy on the eye. They are still in good shape for their main objective of the campaign, which is promotion.

However, some seriously gifted footballing sides such as Tottenham and Napoli have tried to match up to City and been bamboozled, so a more pragmatic approach would make sense for a home team with seven clean sheets in eight games at the DW Stadium.

It's highly unlikely to be another shutout, however, for keeper Christian Walton against the Premier League leaders.

R Sterling first goalscorer
1pt 100-30 general

Premier League standings

Sky Bet League One standings

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Team news
Devante Cole, Donervon Daniels and James Vaughan are cup-tied, while Sam Morsy is suspended. Shaun MacDonald and Jordan Flores are injured.

Manchester City
Gabriel Jesus is back in training but lacks match fitness. Benjamin Mendy is sidelined.

Key stat
Crystal Palace are the only team to stop City from scoring on their travels this season.

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Wigan find themselves facing their toughest test of the campaign during a sticky spell in Sky Bet League One
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