It's that time again - Manchester City enters the least fancied and most annoying domestic cup competition on Tuesday with a trip to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. The Blues and Black Cats faced off at Wembley in the final of this competition just over 18 months ago. Manchester City has lost four of its last five league trips to Sunderland, with the lone in that period coming last December.
The limits of the Blues senior squad already having been tested by an injury bug that has led directly into the swoon in form of the last week, the match Tuesday represents an opportunity for Manuel Pellegrini to test some promising young players in advance of the most difficult trip in the Premier League season yet, Saturday's clash at White Hart Lane against Spurs.
The early kickoff time for the Spurs-City clash should weigh on Pellegrini's mind. While a chance for a domestic trophy always is meaningful, the match Saturday is far more important than the League Cup 3rd Round. The match is an opportunity to get the like Pablo Maffeo and Patrick Roberts meaningful game time, while giving Fernando and Wilfried Bony rare starts to see what they can do.
While the Blues do not want to lose a third match on the trot, with a clash against a Spurs side that is unbeaten in its last six games in all competition on deck Saturday, this would not be the worst time to experiment even if it leads to elimination from the competition.