Now that Manchester City have adopted Wembley as their second home, they will be playing Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday 6 April. This means the match day against Cardiff City has been rescheduled to Wednesday 3 April at 19:45 to be shown live on Sky. But does this have any further meaning for either of the Blues?
There’s the perception in England that weekday games can be a lot tougher than the usual light and breezy Saturday afternoon kick-offs. I’m not sure if this is based on logic, or just down to idiotic sayings like “can they do it on a cold and rainy night in Stoke?” Mid-week games are the common night matches after all.
A successful team like Manchester City will have a lot of weekday matches as they compete on several fronts throughout the season, so maybe it’s worth a look to see if these hastily rescheduled games could result in difficulty.
Save for one blip in the early winter, Pep Guardiola’s side have looked their ruthless selves this season. When Wednesday’s game comes around, Neil Warnock’s plucky Cardiff side will be gracing an Etihad pitch that has seen Guardiola’s home side win each of their last ten home games by a phenomenal 46-3 aggregate scoreline across all competitions.
Let’s take a look at City’s home form across all competitions this season…
Thursday 3rd January: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
Monday 14th January: Manchester City 3-0 Wolves
Wednesday 27th February: Manchester City 1-0 West Ham
Reflecting back on Manchester City’s previous form for Premier League mid-week home games this season should only give Cardiff greater cause for concern. It’s three wins out of three for City, with the Blues picking up victories over opponents who were far from considered guaranteed victories before the game.
It would seem that weekday fixtures are good tests of City’s resolve, having dispatched a Liverpool side threatening to run away with the title, punishing a top-six slayer in Wolves, and grinding out a hard-fought win over stern oppositon in the form of Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham. This could bode well for a side hoping to stay on their game in the hunt for the quadruple…
Wednesday 19th September: Manchester City 1-2 Lyon
Wednesday 7th November: Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Wednesday 12th December: Manchester City 2-1 Hoffenheim
Tuesday 12th March: Manchester City 7-0 Schalke
Maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that City have only lost one mid-week home game all season, against Lyon all the way back in September. Though I’m sure fans will still remember it well, under the floodlights at the Etihad watching Lyon go two goals up before the shocked Premier League champions were able to pull one back.
The other games will be more fondly remembered, particularly due to a couple of high scorelines. For all of Cardiff’s British brute force, each of Shakhtar, Hoffenheim and Schalke remain better sides than the Bluebirds. If City can punish teams with European quality so viciously, then Cardiff’s fortunes do not look too good.
Thursday 1st October: Manchester City 2-0 Fulham
Wednesday 9th January: Manchester City 9-0 Burton
The Citizens have seen some great results at home with huge, high scoring wins. So it sounds as though difficult weekday games may just be a perception fans put onto the game, and this is understandable. They’re tough to get to and get home from, not to mention the eternal struggle of figuring out the best place for a pint before the game (the squash club bar for those City fans asking).
It is a task that sometimes leaves fans wondering if there’s a better place to be if it’s cold, raining, and the game is on Sky Sports. But this doesn’t seem to transfer through to the players. Not based on form anyway. Or maybe Manchester City just aren’t the best example for a study like this. After all, they convincingly beat teams week in and week out regardless of the time or place.
So let’s look at the other team in blue then. Cardiff haven’t had the best of form in weekday matches away from the Cardiff City Stadium with no wins, one draw, and two losses.
Tuesday 4th December: West Ham 3-1 Cardiff
Wednesday 26th December: Crystal Palace 0–0 Cardiff
Tuesday 29th January: Arsenal 2-1 Cardiff
Maybe there is something to be said for the difficulty of a mid-week night match, particularly away from home. But far be it from me to suggest that a Neil Warnock team isn’t up for it.
With Man City beating Cardiff 5-0 away earlier in the season, things are looking good going into the game for the Sky Blues. However, this is just the second game in a huge month with City set to take part in nine games in a little over four weeks, four of them on dreaded weekdays.
With City still competing in the remaining three competitions, they seemingly can’t afford even one slip-up in trying to hold onto their momentum. On paper though, this mid-week move shouldn’t be too likely to effect City’s flow, which is a good sign as the fixture list becomes more congested and this season begins to draw to a close.
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