LONDON: Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has warned the Blues not to take victory for granted after Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini vowed to go through with his threat to send out a weakened team in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
With City due to make the long flight to Ukraine on Monday ahead of their Champions League last 16 first leg tie at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, Pellegrini had pleaded with the FA not to bow to demands from television networks to move the Chelsea game from its original Saturday date.
But Pellegrini’s request was ignored and City, who also have to prepare for next weekend’s League Cup final against Liverpool, have been forced to head to Stamford Bridge 24 hours later than they wanted.
In response, the City boss has promised to field a starting line-up comprised mostly of untested youngsters.
“We always try to play with a strong team in every competition as every competition is important, especially the FA Cup,” said Pellegrini. “But, given the current situation, we must prioritise the Champions League, so we’ll see what is the best team we can put on the pitch for the FA Cup.”
At first glance, it appears Pellegrini has handed Chelsea a gift-wrapped place in the quarter-finals because Hiddink, whose side played their Champions League last 16 first leg tie against Paris Saint-German earlier this week, can afford to send out a stronger team this weekend.
But the Blues’ interim manager believes the City kids could pose a significant threat because they will be so motivated to make the most of a rare moment in the spotlight.
Workload won’t hamper Spurs progress: Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino’s insistence his Tottenham players will have no problem handling their daunting workload will be tested when Crystal Palace visit White Hart Lane.
Tottenham’s surge up to second place in the Premier League means the club’s focus is now unexpectedly trained on landing a first championship since 1961.
But with Pochettino’s side also still competing in the Europa League — they face Palace on the back of Thursday’s 1-1 last 32 first leg draw at Fiorentina — as well as the FA Cup, every game between now and the end of the season will carry added significance.
The trip to Florence marked the start of a run that will see Spurs play six times in 16 days, but Pochettino is adamant his young squad is up to the task of competing on all fronts.
“The mentality is perfect. The players just want to play every game. They feel they are strong, feel they can all play every game and win every game. We need to carry on in the same way,” said Pochettino.
Arsenal held by Hull ahead of Barca clash
Holders Arsenal were left frustrated in their efforts to warm up for Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with Barcelona with a win as their fifth round meeting with Hull City ended goalless at the Emirates Stadium.
An outstanding display by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic meant Steve Bruce’s under-strength side retain hope of avenging their 2014 FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal and so preventing Arsene Wenger’s side becoming the first team to win the competition three years in succession since the 1880s.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2016.