Manchester City are in the League Cup Final, still in the FA Cup, still in the Champions League and have the small issue of a three-way title race. It all sounds perfect, but the source of their excitement could also be their Achilles’ heel.
If City had a fully-fit squad for every game of the season, in almost a FIFA-like scenario, it’s fair to assume they’d probably win all three domestic competitions and go far in the Champions League. Their squad is far superior to any other in England and so why not try and win everything?
Well, the issue there is real life isn’t like FIFA and players having to perform every three days will inevitably wear them down. City being in all four competitions means more tired legs and a higher likelihood of injury, and it also means greed can cause themselves to be spread too thin.
The strength of City’s squad means they’re more likely to be able to deal with this than the likes of Liverpool, but even this squad isn’t deep enough to play every three or four days until the end of the season. In important games, City rely too heavily on 33-year-old Fernandinho and have only one left-back at the club, and that’s the injury-prone Benjamin Mendy.
City have been lucky so far this season to have been handed favourable draws in the Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup, playing the likes of Rotherham, Burton and Newport. Had they been handed tougher ties, Guardiola may have needed to pick which competitions he was prioritising, but luckily the second string, if City even have a second string, has been good enough to get through in the domestic cups so far.
Liverpool have a weaker squad and don’t feel capable of winning all four competitions, so they decided to prioritise the Premier League and Champions League, fielding teams in domestic cups that were more beatable than City’s. This could be the masterstroke that hands Liverpool the Premier League title.
As City progress through the competitions, the draws will get harder and the big players will be called on to play three times in seven days, so it’s impossible to think they’ll be as prepared for the Premier League title race as they would be with a full week between games.
The Sky Blues could well go on to win everything, but then again, they could also go on to win absolutely nothing because they were greedy and on the quest for what Guardiola achieved at Barcelona in 2009, a clean sweep of trophies. It’s a risky game the Catalonian is playing, and he thinks he can win, although Liverpool may just have the advantage when it comes to the Premier League.
Do you think City should’ve taken Liverpool’s approach and disregarded the League Cup and FA Cup to focus on the league title?