It has been a nerve-racking few weeks for Manchester City as the season gradually winds down. By this time last month there was the talk of making history as the first club ever to make a clean sweep of all the domestic trophies in the English top flight and also dominate Europe. That would have meant winning the quadruple. So far, the Manchester United class of 1998/99 led by Sir Alex Ferguson has come closest to the feat winning the treble in ‘99.
Failure to score an away goal against Tottenham put paid to City’s European dreams. But after defeating a resolute Leicester City on Monday night, the road is now clear to claim an unprecedented domestic treble. The way the team setup to defend all game and only venture forward on quick counter attacks showed clearly what was Brendan Rodgers’ intention. The Foxes came to the Etihad Stadium with the aim of just frustrating the Sky Blues and preventing them from scoring in order to have the pleasure of causing another twist in the title race.
Of course, even with two games to go, it’s still not done and dusted. The Cityzens remain favorites to beat both Brighton and Watford in the last game of the Premier League campaign and the FA Cup final respectively. But that doesn’t mean the team can take either of these teams for granted and stroll to victories. The 2013 shock FA Cup final loss against Roberto Martinez’ Wigan serves as a quick reminder that no opponent can be taken for granted.
Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that Pep Guardiola and his troops will see this through. At least, based on what we’ve seen of this team so far. Chris Houghton’s Brighton barely escaped relegation as Cardiff collapsed in the final weeks. Despite picking up a precious point away at Arsenal in their last game, the Seagulls have been quite poor as well even losing 2-0 at home to Cardiff recently. So unless a catastrophe of immense proportion occurs, City should be able to wrap up the Premier League season by retaining the title on Sunday against Brighton.
And as for a trophy Guardiola is yet to win in England, the FA Cup, Watford stand in the way. Javi Gracia has done an amazing job at Vicarage Road. The fact that the club has had no concern with relegation this time around reveals just how much progress has been made after finishing 14th with 41 points last term. With some beautiful football and interesting results in the league this season, it’s not surprising then that the Hornets are in the FA Cup final. A dramatic turnaround in the semifinal against Wolves is more or less a reflection of the team’s turnaround in form within the last year.
At this point in time, Watford can give any team a run for their money. The additional motivation of having the opportunity to play in Europe if they emerge victorious means the players will give everything to win the match. For some of these players as well, this may be their best chance to win a major trophy in their careers. So the Sky Blues should not expect an easy match.
That said, Guardiola and his men have faced many difficult obstacles this term and come out on top. Starting from the Community Shield at the beginning of the season to the League Cup, the Sky Blues have proven they know how to get the job done especially in finals. All that is required is to finish the job against Watford and write another chapter in the Catalan manager's legacy, and the club's history.