They’ve been poor in the Champions League so far, but all they have to do is better CSKA Moscow’s result. Is a treble really so unthinkable?
So far their deep pockets have failed to bring European glory. That’s an understatement really. So far, their deep pockets have failed to even give them a European campaign to actually be proud of. A quick roll call of their European outings since the they became filthy rich reads as follows.
- 2011/12: Finished third in Group stage. Knocked out of Europa League at the round of 16.
- 2012/13: Finished bottom of their group.
- 2013/14: qualify out of the group for the first time. Knocked out in the round of 16.
So far, so rubbish. It’s a weird one. Granted Manchester City have not played in European competitions for a long time. But the players they have brought in are all Champions League validated. Yaya Toure has won a Champions League, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Gael Clichy have all played in numerous European competitions prior to joining City.
Once again they’ve put themselves in a less than envious position going in to tonight’s game. But, a quick look at the possible outcomes tonight show all is not lost.
So let’s imagine Manchester City go through. They haven’t performed well but it doesn’t matter they’ll be through to the next round and will have a January transfer window to strengthen in if needed. Granted, City will face tough opposition as the second placed team in the group but they aren’t exactly a weak side themselves.
Domestically Chelsea are dominant. But Manchester City fans should take heart in most recent round of games. First off Aguero’s injury isn’t as bad as first thought. The Argentine will likely miss six weeks. Not the worst result and it puts him back in to contention for the next round of the Champions League.
Chelsea’s lost to Newcastle United reminded us all of two things. Manchester City haven’t been amazing so far and yet find themselves just three points shy of Chelsea. The press coverage of Chelsea has been completely over the top. Yes they’ve been fantastic but the Telegraph called them ‘Invincibles’ ahead of the Newcastle fixture. Given than it’s only December and that Chelsea promptly went on to lose the whole fanfare around an unbeaten season so early now seems a little ridiculous in retrospect.
The second reminder the Newcastle defeat gave us was this. Chelsea are very reliant on their first XI. We’re fifteen games in to the league and so far nine of Chelsea’s starting team have featured in over 75% of their League games so far. Manchester City meanwhile have rotated more and only five of their starting team have done the same.
Matic’s absence through injury shows that Chelsea’s starting XI are so finely tuned they really can’t be tampered with. He was a huge loss against Newcastle. In Drogba and Remy they have two strikers who are sharp when they get chances. But would Chelsea fans want to rely on them to drag them through a season if Diego Costa’s hamstrings do go? John Terry is having another fantastic season along side Cahill but at 34, can he also last the season?
Obviously one loss is not enough to set alarm bells ringing at Chelsea. But looking at the rest of the pack, no other team seems to be able to get their house in order to effectively challenge. United are resurgent but challenging for the league with that defence and injury crisis must be an impossible task. Could it be that City could actually claim domestic honours again simply by imploding the least, as they did last season?
Then there’s the FA Cup. *insert generic “anything can happen on Cup day” here*. Regardless of the magic of The Cup, Manchester City are actually a good Cup team. They won it in 2010/11 and have reached another final and a quarter-final since.
Yes it’s a definite push to say they can do the treble, of course it is. But they arguably have the deepest squad, one of the greatest strikers of the Premier League era and a point to prove in Europe. David Silva and Yaya Toure will likely not get another proper run at the Champions League in their careers. They must seize the opportunity that tonight’s match presents.
Sean Curtin, Pundit Arena
“City of Manchester Stadium East Stand” by Alfonso Jimenez from London, United Kingdom – City of Manchester Stadium. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –