After beating Chelsea 4-3 on penalties at the end of last month in the League Cup final, the quadruple is very much on for Manchester City. Looking to make history and become the first English club to complete the feat, the Citizens find themselves in the race for the title alongside Liverpool; with an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton & Hove Albion early next month; and of course, a two-legged quarter-final in the UEFA Champions League against Tottenham Hotspur to follow. But can they complete the unthinkable? Here we will assess their chances.
The title race is certainly hotting up with fixtures running out. Liverpool are currently on top with 76 points from 31 games, while City sit two points behind, with a game in hand. Liverpool’s remaining fixtures see them take on two of the ‘big six’ in Tottenham and Chelsea (at home), as well as games against three of the bottom six (Southampton, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town). City’s run-in similarly sees them take on two of the ‘big six’ (Spurs and Manchester United) and four of the bottom six. Their game in hand over Liverpool is against relegation-threatened Cardiff and victory there should be assured, which would see the Blues leapfrog the Reds at the summit.
In terms of form, City are on top and haven’t dropped a single point in their last five league games. In fact, in their last 10, they’ve won nine and lost one. Liverpool on the other hand may be unbeaten in their last five (three wins and two draws) but over the last 10, have only won five (drawing four and losing one). If this form continues, it looks as though the Premier League title will be staying in Manchester for another year.
The FA Cup this season has given us shock after shock, with plenty of all-Premier League ties drawn which has allowed for the ‘minnows’ to take advantage and ensured many of the big boys get knocked out. For example, in round three, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Liverpool. In round four Arsenal drew Manchester United and lost, while Spurs were beaten by Crystal Palace. In round five, United drew another of the ‘big six’ in Chelsea and won 2-0.
But one thing has remained constant – City’s dominance and fire-power. The Citizens brushed aside Rotherham at the Etihad 7-0, following up with a 5-0 demolition of Burnley on home soil with Sean Dyche suggesting that City could “win everything” this season. The goals kept coming as they beat League Two’s Newport County 4-1 and a late goal from Sergio Agüero ensured victory over Swansea City in the last round.
Pep Guardiola’s side face Brighton next and after it took a penalty shoot-out against Millwall to send them through, it should surely be another win for City and a place in the final. The other semi is being contested by Watford and Wolves, with City doing the double over the Hornets in the Premier League this season and the Citizens have faced Wolves three times (once in the League Cup, which they won), with a record of two wins and a draw.
According to https://www.paddypower.com/football/uefa-champions-league, not only are City favourites to overcome Spurs in their two-legged Champions League quarter-final, they’re the favourite to reach the final at odds of 11/10 and are currently outright favourites as well (23/10).
The Citizens face the North Londoners three times in 11 days with the first leg of the Champions League on April 9, the return fixture on the 17; while three days later Spurs return to the Etihad for their Premier League clash. The winners of the quarter-final will take on the winners of Ajax v Juventus.
City are the form team in the Champions League and certainly know where the goal is, topping the table with 26. Juventus would pose a trickier test than Ajax; however, Pep’s side have the quality and depth to juggle the numerous competitions they remain in. When you take big players out of a side, usually the side suffers – just take a look at Real Madrid this season without Cristiano Ronaldo. But the injury to Kevin de Bruyne hasn’t affected City in any way and they’ve continued to romp their way through the Champions League thus far – the latest aggregate win against Schalke proof of that. They should be able to beat all of the remaining teams in the competition.