FA Cup: Swansea City's Jay Fulton explains blueprint to beat Manchester City

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Swansea City midfielder Jay Fulton
Jay Fulton scored in Swansea City's FA Cup third-round victory over Aston Villa
FA Cup quarter-final: Swansea City v Manchester City
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 17:20 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, plus live text commentary with in-play clips.

He played only 63 minutes - for the most part against 10 men - yet Jay Fulton has never felt so tired on a football field.

Crucially, the 10 men in question were wearing Manchester City shirts.

Fulton was in the colours of Wigan Athletic, having joined the then League One club on loan from Swansea City for the second half of last season.

The midfielder made only six appearances during a largely frustrating spell with the Latics but, as he prepares for another FA Cup clash with Manchester City, one game sticks in the memory.

Wigan were widely written off as they prepared to take on Pep Guardiola's team of stars in round five of the 2017-18 FA Cup.

Then, as now, Manchester City were being mentioned as contenders to land an unprecedented quadruple, but their chances of winning four major trophies disappeared on a dazzling evening at the DW Stadium.

"It was an unbelievable night," says Fulton.

"It's a game I will always look back on because of the players we were up against - they had World Cup winners in their team."

Paul Cook's Wigan were destined for promotion to the Championship, but were in their worst form of the season heading into the tie.

Manchester City, meantime, were no fewer than 16 points clear in the Premier League table and had scored nine goals in their previous two games, against Leicester City and Basel.

Guardiola's side had lost only two of their previous 41 games as they prepared to face opponents who had just been beaten by Southend and Blackpool.

The pre-match statistics indicated there could only be one winner, and the pattern of the contest suggested the same.

Despite having Fabian Delph sent off just before half-time, Manchester City had a whopping 82% of possession and managed 29 shots compared to Wigan's four.

Yet only one effort found the target, and it came from the right boot of Wigan's Will Grigg.

"They had a lot of chances, but we defended well and rode our luck," Fulton says.

"They had the man sent off and we hit them on the counter-attack and got the goal.

"It was a proper cup game and a proper cup upset. It shows it can be done, albeit it's very difficult."

Delph was dismissed in controversial circumstances, with referee Anthony Taylor initially pulling out a yellow card only to decide the England international's challenge on Max Power was worthy of red.

Guardiola clashed with opposite number Cook on the touchline, and their disagreement continued in the tunnel at half-time.

Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook
Pep Guardiola is yet to win the FA Cup

As Swansea bid to follow Wigan's example by causing their own cup shock, Fulton feels they must look to upset Manchester City.

"If they are on their game it will be very difficult for us, but it's up to us to try to get them off their game," he adds.

"They have unbelievable quality. When they had the man sent off last season it gave us a lift in our defensive work.

"Even though they had 10 men they still had all the ball, but the sending off lifted the crowd and it seemed to be one of those nights when everything fell into place for us.

"I saw (the tunnel clash) when I was coming through. Anything like that which will get the crowd going can work in our favour."

Fulton had made only one brief substitute appearance for Wigan when an injury to Nick Powell saw him step off the bench against Manchester City.

His tenacity at the base of midfield aided the hosts' battle to keep the likes of David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero at bay.

Wigan's winner came on the break 11 minutes from time, when Grigg raced into space and placed a low shot beyond Claudio Bravo.

Will Grigg
Will Grigg scored 26 goals for Wigan last season

"It was unbelievable when it went in, but I don't think many of the players chased after him because we were all too tired," Fulton says.

"We were celebrating, but then we looked at the clock and could see how long was left. We were happy but exhausted.

"I think it's the most tired I have ever been after a game."

Manchester City were the team Swansea wanted to avoid after victory over Brentford last month put them through to only the fifth cup quarter-final in the club's history.

If Graham Potter's team are to do something extraordinary, Fulton feels resilience will be key.

"You have to have that respect - Manchester City are one of the best teams in the world," he says.

"Our concentration levels are going to need to be through the roof because any one of their players could play that key pass or score a goal out of nothing.

"We are also going to need to run - a lot."

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