LONDON • Guus Hiddink has warned Chelsea not to take victory for granted after Manuel Pellegrini vowed to go through with his threat to send out a weakened Manchester City team in the FA Cup fifth round today.
With City due to make the long flight to Ukraine tomorrow, ahead of their Champions League last-16 first leg 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 his 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 manager has promised to field a starting line-up comprising mostly untested youngsters - resting the likes of Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
"We are very interested in continuing in this Cup," he said. "But we must prioritise the Champions League, so we'll see what is the best team we can put 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.
Hiddink is also concerned City have been stung by damaging successive defeats against league title rivals Leicester City and Tottenham and will be desperate for a morale-boosting win.
"A big team always reacts. We'll take them seriously," said Hiddink.
"Hypothetically, if City play a younger side they will go to 120 per cent effort, so it does not always work in your favour."
At White Hart Lane, Mauricio Pochettino's insistence his Spurs players will have no problem handling their daunting workload will be tested when Crystal Palace visit in the FA Cup fifth round today.
Tottenham are second in the Premier League and are competing in the Europa League and the FA Cup. That means that, including their 1-1 last-32 first-leg draw at Fiorentina in the Europa League on Thursday, they will play six times in 16 days.
But Pochettino is adamant his young squad are up to the task of competing on every single front.
"The mentality is perfect. The players feel they are strong, can play and win every game," he said.
Striker Harry Kane did not start for the Fiorentina game but is set to return to the starting line-up for the visit of a Palace side who will include former Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY
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