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Manchester City welcome Championship side Birmingham City to the Etihad on Sunday afternoon in the FA Cup third round – one of the most exciting weekends in the footballing calendar.

Having secured their place in another domestic final in midweek with an excellent 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, attention now turn to the FA Cup.

The Blues were knocked out in the semi-final of last season’s competition to Arsenal and Pep Guardiola will no doubt be eager to go one step further and win the competition for a second time in three years.

Championship strugglers Birmingham are City’s third round opponent and ahead of Sunday’s meeting we spoke to Adam Dee from Blues Focus about how he expects the match to go, the Jude Bellingham transfer and whether Birmingham could really pull of a cup upset.

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Coming up against a Manchester City side which is playing undoubtedly their best football in a long-time, how do you expect to approach the game and do you believe you could really cause a cup upset?

First of all, I expect Aitor Karanka to set up hard to beat. That may be a tough task with Blues’ recent run of form, however, I expect the boss to field five at the back with Jake Clarke-Salter, Mikel San Jose, and Marc Roberts in the centre, with Kristian Pedersen and Maxime Colin operating on the flanks as wing-backs to try and cope with the threat of the likes of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez.

That being said, we will have our own threat going forward with Ivan Sanchez and Jeremie Bela likely to be on the wings with the outlet of Scott Hogan in the middle. Our system will only be successful, mind, if our Number 10 can play freely in the hole, which will no doubt be a huge task for either Jon Toral or Riley McGree. However, they have both shown promising signs in our recent victories against Bristol and Reading.

As for us causing an upset, the odds are already slithered, but as a Blues fan I never say never and it would be typical Blues to lose 4-1 in two consecutive games and come away from the Etihad with a win.

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(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

After a difficult start to the season, what do you consider to be a good season and what needs to happen for the side to return to the Premier League?

After our recent form, a good season would be survival and not to be down there once more swirling the drain come the final day of the season. I think anywhere from 16th or above would be very successful and Blues fans would snap your hand off for that finish in these current times.

To return to the Premier League is simple. Getting rid of the board. Many fans will agree with me when I say there’s no chance we can progress in the short term with these current owners in power. We don’t actually know who really owns the football club, all we see is their puppet Dong Ren who has tried to establish a relationship with the fans but has failed.

Thanks to the board’s decision making over the years; sacking multiple managers, providing next to no clarity or communication with the fans, and also not investing in the club in more recent transfer windows in order to compete at the top of the division, Championship football is here to stay for a while under this regime.

What was the reaction amongst fans to losing Jude Bellingham in the summer?

Obviously, fans were saddened with the news he was leaving, and this season proves just how key he was in the middle of the park last term. He was one player who you could see wanted the team as a whole to do their best for the club. 

We were all very quick to respect his decision and realise, although Birmingham is his boyhood club, it was best for him to move on and to be able to progress in his undeniably gifted career.

Playing with Champions League quality players around him and even the England lads is doing wonders and he’s even getting a few man of the match awards so good on him!

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(Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s impressed you most about City’s recent resurgence?

What’s impressed me most is your defence. I think Pep Guardiola has finally found a strong partnership in Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, and with John Stones also impressing, I think that’s been a foundation to the most recent success. 

That being said, I think Ilkay Gundogan has been a revelation this season and looks a completely different player we’ve seen in recent years. Kevin De Bruyne is showing his class and why he’s one of the best in his position in the world – and finally, Phil Foden is improving every game and it’s clear to see why Pep Guardiola has installed so much faith in him over the last few years.

How do you predict the weekend’s clash will go, and can we get a score prediction?

My head says a comfortable 3-0 win for Manchester City. I think any scoreline below four goals against Blues fans will hold their hands up and admit they have been outdone by sheer quality. I think Blues will show more fight and determination which we’ve been lacking so much in recent games. However, my heart wants to say it will finish 1-1 and we will win on penalties. Here’s hoping!

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You can follow our guests here: @BluesFocus

Follow us on Twitter for live match coverage: @City_Xtra


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