Thanks to a goal from Will Grigg in the seventy-eighth minute of play, Manchester City have been eliminated from the FA Cup and missed out on an opportunity to win the club’s first ever quadruple. Right before the half, Manchester City makeshift left back Fabian Delph was sent off following a controversial challenge and a strange series of events.
With the final seconds of the single added minute passing by, Delph slid in for a 50/50 challenge with his studs showing against Wigan defensive midfielder, Max Power. Initially, referee Anthony Taylor brandished a yellow for Delph’s tackle, but after the relentless pressure from the Wigan players and manager Paul Cook, Taylor produced a red card for the left back’s dangerous play.
While the challenge was undoubtedly reckless, Manchester City have faced countless “leg-breaking” tackles from a number of teams including Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle, and Cardiff City all of which were not punished with a red card. Throughout the season, Manchester City manager has urged referees to protect the players at all costs, but perhaps this is not what he had in mind.
Despite being reduced to ten men, the Citizens stuck to their game plan and gave everything they had until the final whistle in an attacking sense. City had 83% possession during the match and posted 29 shots with only five testing Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton. The Sky Blues also recorded a staggering fifteen corners compared to Wigan’s zero and looked the most dangerous when Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan, or Kevin de Bruyne whipped the ball in.
In spite of Man City’s attacking attempts, credit is due to Wigan for their resilient defending and their dedication to pressing the ball. After blocking an impressive 15 shots, Wigan were rewarded for their efforts in the seventy-eighth minute as Manchester City sub Kyle Walker let the ball roll past him in a massive defensive miscue. Wigan striker Will Grigg snapped up the opportunity and showed good pace to sprint towards the City goal and slot the ball past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s right.
While critics will surely be after City, Guardiola believed in his player’s intention to win and is optimistic for Sunday’s Carabao League Cup final. “We are out of the FA Cup. Now we must rest for the final on Sunday,” Guardiola admitted.
After advancing past the Round of 16, Wigan will face Southampton on March 17th in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Additionally, Leicester City travel to Chelsea, and Manchester United host Brighton and Hove Albion. The final match-up is waiting on replays from both sides as Swansea City replay Sheffield Wednesday on February 27th, and Tottenham Hotspur play Rochdale on the 28th at Wembley Stadium.
With one less competition on their mind, Manchester City will look to secure their first trophy of the season against Arsenal in the Carabao League Cup final, as well as stretch their point gap in the Premier League, and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.