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End of Season Analysis

By: Ted Fred Franky, Refuting misinformation, April 9, 2024  2 months ago

It’s all looking good for City to do another treble.

So here we go, we have reigning champions of England, Europe and the world, Manchester City trying to do it all again and secure a second successive treble. The three trophies on offer are:

  • The FA Cup
  • Premier League
  • Champions League

FA Cup

The FA Cup is probably the hardest to win of the three. It’s two one off matches with no second bite at the cherry. In the semi-final it is Pochettino and Chelsea. As Spurs Manager Pochettino definitely had City’s number. With two hard fought draws in the Premier League against Chelsea this season, City are facing one of their toughest challenges here.

My gut feeling is because of when this fixture occurs (and how pivotal it is to retaining the treble), is City will rest Haaland and play a false number 9, ie a 4-6-0 formation. Pep has deployed this so successfully in the past, notably at Old Trafford in the League Cup semi final a few years ago. It’s very attacking, but also protects the back four very well. It would be the ideal time to do so, to secure the final. I suspect Pochettino will try to play very defensively hitting City on the break and this formation could ruin his plans.

Should City progress they could face Coventry City from the Championship, who no doubt will be overwhelmed by the occasion, especially if they still have a play off final to contend. Alternatively, it’s the old enemy in Man United, who these days you can toss a coin as to whether they’ll turn up or not. If they do it’ll be one hell of a match, if not another easy derby win.

The unpleasant factor for United is that City could be Champions of England for the 10th time and scheduled to come back the following week to conquer Europe again. Their snowflake players don’t have the wear withal to stand up to that.

Manchester City MCFC Scarf
Manchester City MCFC Scarf

For me though the Chelsea match is a really tough hurdle, but should be possible.

Champions League

The Champions League is an interesting balance. City are at home in the second leg of the quarter final versus Real Madrid and also in the semifinal (if they progress) against Bayern Munich or Arsenal. Both should be winnable, especially with the 2nd leg at the Etihad. The final is at the Etihad South this year most likely against PSG or Barcelona.. Either opponent would be a serious challenge to end the season. However none of these opponents should be at all daunting, tough but not daunting.

Premier League

The Premier League is probably the easiest to win, despite how it currently looks. Arsenal have a tough run in and Liverpool”s is virtually impossible, both clubs are certain to drop points in one or more games.

Man City Fans Sky and White Traditional Bar Scarf
Man City Fans Sky and White Traditional Bar Scarf

Arsenal

Arsenal are going for their first league title since 2004 (and their first ever Champions League win). They’re currently in pole position, win all their games and it’s theirs. However, they have plenty of tricky matches in their schedule to negotiate.

Sandwiched between their double header against Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich is a home tie against Aston Villa. These three fixtures are not easy, especially as Villa will be back to full strength compared to the depleted side City faced at the Etihad. Ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery will have point to prove, and would love to do Arsenal after his failure and appalling treatment by Arsenal fans. If he plays the same 6-3-1 he did against City, but  this time with Watkins up front, this will be a very difficult match for Arsenal.

The rest of April is barely a formality either. Wolves at Molyneux, is probably the loudest stadium in the Premier League and if their tails are up this could be difficult.

Then they have Chelsea, again Pochettino will see this as a test and his Spurs pedigree will elevate his desire to dig in and get a result here. Players like Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling will know how they can help City. So this is far from an easy home game for Arsenal.

Then it’s the obvious and most difficult game for Arsenal, away at Spurs, in a North London derby which will be electric.

May is no easier. A potential Champions League semi final against City or Real Madrid, could give City a chance to lay a glove on Arsenal psychologically. If not Real Madrid could. Either way, Arsenal would be only one match away from a Wembley final and their first Champions League win. Only time will tell if they get the opportunity. Winning or losing could either hinder or help their league campaign. Arsenal weren’t in the Champions League last year, and this added pressure and opportunity may cause them to buckle. However they might not get past Harry Kane”s Bayern Munich, which could be worse. Either way the Champions League is likely to affect Arsenal’s focus.

Then they have an easy home game against Bournemouth which you’d expect them to win, before they travel to “flip a coin” United. United could win, lose or draw this match depending on sticking your finger in the air, such is the inconsistency and lack of character of both their players and manager.

The final match against Everton should be a formality, but if Everton need a result to stay up and with Calvert Lewin in the side, they could pull off a shock.

It’s a tough run in for Arsenal.

Liverpool

Liverpool have a much harder task. They have two straightforward matches at Anfield coming up against Atalanta then Crystal Palace which you’d expect them to win. Then it gets difficult.

Liverpool then have 4 away games in 9 days. If they overcome Atalanta it will be 5 away games in 14 days. Such a run of away matches is tough for any club, and especially tough if you’re trying to win them all.

First up in this run, it’s the return fixture against Atalanta on a Thursday. Followed by a Sunday trip 3 days later to Craven Cottage against an in form Fulham, where they crashed and burnt in the 2014 run in. Then 3 days later it’s Everton away, who have to beat them at some point, but either way will make it tough. 3 days later they are away against former Everton supremo David “Park the bus” Moyes’s West Ham. Finally if they overcome Atalanta it’s a trip to Benfica or Marseille to finish a torrid run off away matches.

I can’t see Liverpool coming through this schedule without dropping points in the league.

When they finally get back to Anfield they face Champions League chasing Postecoglou’s Spurs, before a trip to Unai Emery’s Champions League chasing Aston Villa. It’s hardly a let up in intensity and even if they come through all those away games, this maybe a bridge too far.

So what of City’s chances of doing the business?

Real Madrid in the Champions League is tough but sandwiched between is a nice home match against Luton, which should be a formality and an option to rest and rotate key players.

Official Manchester City Scarf – PUMA 2
Official Manchester City Scarf – PUMA 2

Chelsea follows in the FA Cup and the opportunity to keep the treble or double alive.

Before City play again after the Luton match, both Liverpool and Arsenal play 3 times each, so favourable things could happen without City kicking a ball, or City could really be up against it. Either way I think one of these two will be out of the race by the time City play again.

City then have two tricky fixtures away to Brighton and Forest, both of which should be routine wins, although you never can tell.

Then May gets interesting. City could be travelling to Munich or Arsenal in the Champions League before facing Wolves at home. Then the return match at the Etihad with a final at Wembley in the offing. The Wolves match should be a formality and the chance of knocking Arsenal out of the Chamions League and hurting their pride cannot be underestimated. Last season City battered Arsenal in the FA Cup which ultimately sowed the seeds of the Arsenal doubts and collapse. This is where City excel. A double header against Munich would be enthralling too, if a little less appetising.

Then it’s the last three, tricky trips to Fulham and Spurs before a final game against West Ham. All three tricky for different reasons, but when City are closing in on the league title, these are games you’d expect them to win.

There is so much scope for it to go completely tits up for City in each competition, but equally there is so much opportunity for our rivals to slip up too.

If City hold their nerve and win a maximum of 12 remaining matches, it will be another treble in the bag, an unprecedented 4 league titles in a row and the first English club to retain the Champions League.

Every man and his dog in the media says this isn’t the same Manchester City that won the treble last year, they concede goals, they miss Gundog and Mahrez, Haaland isn’t scoring as easily etc.

I’d say this year City are better!

Firstly, City haven’t lost a match in any competition for 4 months. This is unprecedented.

Secondly, City have only lost one match in the last 6 months.

Thirdly the only 4 matches City have lost this season have been when key players were missing. The media focuses on Rodri’s record of over 60 consecutive matches without defeat and that he missed these games. But both Rodri and De Bruyne missed all four and John Stones missed 3 of the 4.

Furthermore and fourthly, City have missed John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ruben Diaz, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland and now Edersen for extended periods this season. These are key players and for City to only have lost once in 6 months is a testament to how good the other players are. Players like Ake, Akanji, Lewis, Foden, Aovarez, Silva and Ortega have been as well as the speed with which newcomers like Gvardiol, Kovacic, Doku and Nunes have slotted in.

It’s a long way off but I would argue if City do the treble again, it is a greater achievement than last season.

We all know the opportunity is there. All we hear is a media sucking up to the brilliance of Arteta and his side or Jurgen Klopp’s fairytale finale.

However all the ingredients are there, for City to do it.

Whatever happens we have a thrilling end to the season and the opportunity for Manchester City to cement themselves as the greatest English team of all time.

Before that, there’s a tough match at the Bernabeu tonight.

Bring it on!






Manchester City MCFC Scarf
Manchester City MCFC Scarf