Can Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur avoid FA Cup upsets?

Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City travel to Football League opposition in the FA Cup fifth round, but can the Premier League sides avoid a giant-killing?

Earlier this week, both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City showed why they should be considered as contenders for the Champions League this season, with Spurs producing a memorable comeback to secure a 2-2 draw at Juventus and Man City making light work of Basel in Switzerland. However, upon their return to domestic action, both Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola must look to motivate their respective squads ahead of trips to clubs which are plying their trade in the third tier of English football. On Sunday afternoon, Spurs go up against struggling League One outfit Rochdale on a pitch which has needed to be relaid while on Monday night, City face high-flyers Wigan Athletic. On paper, there is a huge gulf in class between the teams but as we have seen in the past, anything can happen in the FA Cup.

Fans of Dale and the Latics will be dreaming of a lucrative success, much like punters do in the world of online casinos. As online betting as progressed over the years, so have the options available to people wanting to bring Las Vegas to their computer or phone screens, with the majority of companies offering a wide range of incentives and bonuses to increase the punter's chances of winning big in a short space of time. That's the scenario facing everyone associated with Rochdale and Wigan. They are 90 minutes away from a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals, an achievement which would bring in money and the chance to secure a rare trip to Wembley Stadium in April. The stakes are high but the underdogs - Rochdale, in particular - have every reason to believe that they can continue to reap the rewards of a run in the world's most famous cup competition.

Mauricio Pochettino keeps it casual during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth on October 14, 2017© SilverHub

Much has been made of the famous Spotland pitch, with Pochettino already claiming that both sets of team are taking a "massive risk" in playing on the surface. The pitch has been relaid but will the Argentine tactician really risk the likes of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane ahead of an important few weeks for the club? The chances are that Pochettino will ring the changes at the weekend, with Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente all being given their chance to shine after spells of inactivity. Of course, each of the quartet possess quality rarely seen at Spotland but the fixture in the North-West is not the ideal fixture to come into when you are short of match fitness. Mousa Dembele - arguably Spurs' star man during the games against Arsenal and Juventus - is also unlikely to be risked in the middle of the park and it is another area which Rochdale could exploit.

That said, we should not forget that Spurs are currently on a run of just one defeat in 18 matches in all competitions, as are Man City since losing to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League when qualification for the last 16 had already been secured. The pitch at Wigan should not pose too much of a problem to Guardiola and his players, and the short trip is ideal given City's recent workload, but it is that workload which is likely to lead to Guardiola taking the opportunity to rest a couple of his star men ahead of the EFL Cup final with Arsenal and the Premier League meeting with Chelsea. Both Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are likely to begin the game on the bench and there is no doubting that City will be a weaker side for their absence should Guardiola make that choice.

Kevin De Bruyne in action during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Leicester City on February 10, 2018© Offside

Leroy Sane could be handed the number nine role after his quick recovery from ankle ligament damage, while one of Brahim Diaz or Phil Foden are likely to be given a chance in the first XI. Each of the trio have the ability to hurt Wigan, but the simple fact is that they are not De Bruyne or Aguero and Wigan can only be boosted by that. Scoring at the other end may be a problem with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte - over £100m of defensive talent - both expected to improve their match sharpness and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has looked increasingly assured whenever he has deputised for Ederson this season, but Wigan will be confident of capitalising on any rustiness. Paul Cook's side made light work of West Ham United in the previous round and although much has changed in the period since Wigan defeated City in the 2013 FA Cup final, they will only have fond memories of defeating their more illustrious opponents in this competition.

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Shkodran Mustafi celebrates opening the scoring during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur on November 18, 2017
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