5 Reasons Manchester City Won't Win the Quadruple
ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER
It's mid-January and Manchester City are still involved in four competitions.
They sit second in the Premier League table behind leaders Arsenal having won their last six league games, slashing the Gunners' lead at the top from six points at the start of December to just one point as it stands. Reclaiming the title after their limp defence last season is the club's primary objective for this campaign.
They are also into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in the club's history, where they'll face Barcelona for a quarter-final place.
Watford are the visitors in the FA Cup Fourth Round later this month, and they have pretty much guaranteed a trip to Wembley in the Capital One Cup final having battered West Ham 6-0 in the first-leg of their semi-final.
It's sparked media talk of a quadruple.
According to BBC Sport, Vincent Kompany has this week spoken about City's chances of winning all four, saying:
We can't promise it will happen now, but eventually it will have to happen.
We are the players at the moment who have been chosen to do it. If it's not us then it will be other players.
This club definitely has a target to win every competition possible.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the Cardiff match this weekend, manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to be drawn on talk of a quadruple, and he reiterated his desire to focus on one game at a time.
I think it is very important for all the players to know that the only important thing for us is to win tomorrow.
It is not useful for us to think what could happen in one month or more months.
Tomorrow if we win, we continue fighting for the Premier League. If we lose or we drop points at home it will be v difficult to continue.
I repeat and I am absolutely sure that this Premier League will be very close with five or six teams in it until the end for the title and just one or two points difference so I am just thinking about the game tomorrow.
So are City capable of winning all four trophies this season?
It's a feat that's never been achieved before, with the Manchester United side of 1998-99 coming the closest. They won an unprecedented treble—Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup—but lost in the League Cup quarter-final.
It's a near-impossible task and City are unlikely to pull if off this season. Here are five reasons why.
1: City Have Tough Fixtures Between Now and May
The second-half of this season sees City face a run of tough away fixtures in the Premier League. They have six matches left against the current top seven, and five of them are away from home, with only Chelsea to come to the Etihad.
Trips to Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton look tough on paper, and with City almost certain to prioritise Premier League success, that tough away schedule could impact on their ability to compete in other competitions.
If City were to make it through to the Champions League quarter-final, for example, their second leg would be just days before the trip to Liverpool. It's this kind of scheduling that City aren't used to and may struggle with.
2: Samir Nasri's Injury Is a Blow
Samir Nasri has been one of City's outstanding performers this season. Together with David Silva, the two have provided real quality from wide positions.
With Jesus Navas and James Milner's involvement set to increase, as a result of Nasri's injury, City are well-stocked at the moment but should Silva suffer an injury, there would be a lack of quality on the flanks to compete on four fronts.
3: City Rely Heavily on Vincent Kompany
City captain Vincent Kompany is one of the best defenders in world football and City rely on him heavily.
When he plays, the team look far more organised and confident; when he is out, there's a lack of leadership. Martin Demichelis has addressed that somewhat, with his experience and know-how useful to have, but Kompany is a huge part of City's chances of success.
If he was to suffer another injury—and he's already spent two sustained periods on the sidelines this season—City would struggle to compete for four trophies. He's missed nine league games this season and City lost three of them.
Demichelis, Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott are all good defenders who bring different qualities to the side, but none can replace Kompany.
4: A Lack of Depth in Central Midfield Could Hurt Them
Much like the lack of depth at centre-half, City don't really have adequate replacements for their two central midfield stars.
Yaya Toure and Fernandinho have formed a formidable partnership—arguably the best in the league—but City's options beyond those two leave a little to be desired.
Javi Garcia is currently Pellegrini's choice to come in when one is rested, and although his form has improved drastically in recent months, he still lacks the pace and passing ability to excel in English football.
Jack Rodwell would be an ideal candidate, with his box-to-box style and ability on the ball reminiscent of City's first-choice pair, but his injury record makes him unlikely to get a run of games.
It's an area City will strengthen in the future, but they look slightly short in for now and to try and win a quadruple you need strength in every department.
5: They Face the Mighty Barcelona in the Champions League
There's no question City got one of the toughest draws imaginable when they were pitted against Barcelona in the Champions League last 16. The Spanish side, quite rightly, start as favourites, and City will need to be at their very best over the two legs to have any chance of progressing.
In Lionel Messi, they have the greatest player to have played the game—a man who can destroy teams single-handedly. He's ably assisted by the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta—two of the great players of this generation.
When Barca turn on the style, particularly at home, they are unplayable. City have already seen this season in the home defeat to Bayern Munich that when a top side plays at their best, it can be very difficult to stop them. However, the away win in Munich will give them confidence of causing an upset.
When all's told, the likelihood of a Manchester City quadruple seems remote.