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Hope for Arsenal and Liverpool: 10 reasons why Manchester City can still drop points



Hope for Arsenal and Liverpool: 10 reasons why Manchester City can still drop points

It seems unlikely that North London resident TS Eliot was an Arsenal fan, but his poetry suggests otherwise.

“April is the cruellest month,” The Waste Land begins. “I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,” laments J. Alfred Prufrock’s The Love Song. “This is how the challenge ends; not with a bang but with a whimper,” was probably the first version of The Hollow Men.

Sunday was a disappointing day, not only for Arsenal and Liverpool fans, but also for neutral fans looking to continue the treble title battle. Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace and Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat to Villa leave Manchester City two points clear at the top of the league, and as leaders, Pep Guardiola’s side are virtually infallible.

“I’ve known it all, I’ve known it all,” Eliot groans. But be cheerful, Tommy. There is still hope.

Here are 10 completely realistic reasons why City could still drop points.

This is a serious article, so let’s get serious. Can a team achieve the treble twice in a row? With injuries on the rise, fixtures tripling and emotions deepening, can City reawaken themselves?

There’s a reason why a treble – or a double for that matter – is so rare. Plays in multiple competitions do having effect. When margins are this tight, fatigue levels, tactical planning and mental freshness are even more important.

When cup competitions are straight knockout, league matches against lower-ranked opponents are obviously the matches that can slip out of focus. City host Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, play Chelsea in the FA Cup three days later, before traveling to Brighton five days later.

Guardiola has already said City are in “big, big trouble” with fatigue and injuries. So that’s reason for hope for Liverpool and Arsenal, right?

Manchester City may need a bigger trophy room (Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The Spurs

Won two, lost five. Has Guardiola ever had such a bad record? Will you take on Lionel Messi in the crossbeam challenge? Credit card roulette in Manchester’s best restaurants? Family games of Uno?

City have always struggled against Spurs. Their Premier League record in North London is worse than any other match. Yes, they may have beaten them in the FA Cup in January, but that record doesn’t include their Champions League quarter-final defeat in 2019.

Every manager’s mind has a dark room in which he keeps his worst defeats. Guardiola’s includes a Beavertown Brewery and a retractable NFL field.

Tottenham may have been overwhelmed by Newcastle, but both of their meetings with City this season have been close. They still have the Champions League to chase, and they won’t back down.

Guardiola is often baffled by league trips to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Is 30 goals in 37 games really a bad season? Since when are you, as Roy Keane suggested, a League Two player? Anyway.

Maybe if Haaland doesn’t score for the rest of the season Than there is a conversation to be had. For now, City’s rivals just have to hope the wheels come off.

Pep makes it too complicated

“I always think too much,” Guardiola said in 2022. “I always create new tactics and ideas, and tomorrow you will see a new one. I think a lot, that’s why I have very good results. I love it.”

“If it works, I’m brave. If it doesn’t work, I think too much,” he added a year later. So keep going – be brave.

If you already play with four centre-backs, why stop there?

Play a back four of Nathan Aké, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and Josko Gvardiol. John Stones is pretty much a central midfielder already. Plonk Kyle Walker (yes, he can qualify as a centre-back) on the right wing.

The rest of them? Think of Southampton’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis and put him up front in Andy Carroll’s role. At 196 cm tall, Finley Burns must be decent in nets. Luke Mbete can return from Den Bosch and use his left foot from the left wing. Max Alleyne was on the bench this season at the age of 18. Would you like to join Stones in the double pivot? There is already talk about the technical quality of 16-year-old Stephen Mfuni. Put him at number 10.

Guardiola believes in total football. They’ll be fine. When you’ve won everything, the only way to win is to… win better.

Forest’s latest investment is finally coming to fruition

Imagine the scenario: Nottingham Forest fighting for Premier League survival and keeping City at bay. In the 71st minute Phil Foden finally gave them the lead. With 88 minutes having passed, Chris Wood bundles Forest back in. Bedlam.

But before the cheering dies down, the whistle blows. VAR rating. Suspected foul in the penalty area. The referee walks to the monitor. The City Ground has seen this story before. But then he sees something in the crowd and walks away.

In the middle of the celebrations, the supporters pause for a moment. What made the referee change his mind? They look for an answer – and find it.

Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? No, it’s Mark Clattenburg.

This superhero has no cape, but Forest’s referee consultant has the rules on his front and justice on his back. Gotham City is safe from PGMOL. The score in the Premier League is level again.

This is the time of Clattenburg (Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Rodri’s break turns into a gap year

Rodri has said he needs a break, but remember this is a player living the lifestyle of a college student. He lived in a student house. He has a degree in business administration. He drove a second-hand Opel Corsa. He is one step away from selling £2 entry to Tuesday club nights at Pryzm.

“Spending time with young people like you,” he told Manchester City’s website when asked why he considered university the best time of his life. “Studying and going out every now and then. It was good…a great time.”

But the intensity of the campaign – he has played 3,498 minutes for City in all competitions this season – means some of this purity must have faded in recent months.

“I need some rest,” he told reporters after City’s 3-3 draw with Real Madrid, with the dazed air of anyone who has attended a 9am lecture with a hangover.

A week is of course a short break. But why not three months? Why not find yourself? You only get to be in your twenties once. British Airways offers student discounts on flights. There is a world to discover.

Rodri is exhausted and needs a gap year (Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images)

“Jarrod, maaaaaatHow are you, huh?”

“Gaffer? Gaffer? Gaffer? Moyesy?”

‘Kalvin… how are the new digs going? Passport renewed?”

Declan Rice’s phone bill has never been higher.

City hosts West Ham on the final day. By the time it starts, Rice can do little more than manage his own affairs. So the real work starts earlier. West Ham have nothing to play for; it’s time for that to change. Each negotiation card is on the table.

He sold his car to Lucas Paqueta. He is willing to withdraw from the England squad in favor of Phillips. David Sullivan has promised his firstborn son. West Ham wins.

Roberto De Zerbi’s job interview never to be forgotten

This season has gone somewhat for Brighton & Hove Albion, who are tenth in the league and are winless four times. Roberto De Zerbi is still one of the most impressive managers of the past eighteen months. It’s likely that only Guardiola surpasses De Zerbi in sheer crazy, tactical improvisation.

In the summer the big courses are open. Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Barcelona.

The Athletics might have reported on Saturday that Brighton are increasingly confident De Zerbi will stay, but that comes against the backdrop of talks over a new contract being put on the back burner and the coach has been publicly non-committal about his future.

Showing not telling is the first rule of job interviews – and De Zerbi has the chance to show his tactical acumen by outsmarting Guardiola.

City initially have to deal with Brighton’s pioneering use of an overlapping sweeper and a pressing pattern based on the Fibonacci sequence, but are baffled by Jason Steele’s inspired introduction as a reverse trequartista.

There is no escaping De Zerbi (Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Gary O’Neil’s luck turns

Gary O’Neil seems an unlikely contender for MTV’s Welcome To My Crib, but let’s imagine him opening the doors of his mansion in Wolverhampton.

The doormat is a four-leaf clover. When you enter, seven happy cats wave hello. Rabbit feet hang from the kitchen beams. Mirrors are forbidden, O’Neil explains, as he shows how he brushes his teeth in the reflection of the bathroom window.

There is an almost overwhelming smell of incense.

No team has been more unlucky this season than Wolves. O’Neil has tried reason, he has tried rationalization. He has tried to avoid ladders. All that’s left is faith… and Nathan Fraser.

Foden hits the crossbar. Jeremy Doku trips over his laces. A wild swipe from Max Kilman lands on Hwang Hee-chan’s ass. Molineux erupts.

City’s 115 charges come to a sudden end

The metaphorical gavel falls. White smoke billows from the ceiling of the Premier League headquarters. It was thought that this day would take place months later, but a decision has been made.

City are facing 115 charges over nine different seasons for breaching the Premier League’s financial rules. If they are found guilty of at least some of these, a point deduction is a realistic outcome.

Of course City will say this is impossible, the most ridiculous suggestion on this list. After all, they vehemently deny the accusations and do everything they can to prove their innocence.

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The Brief: Arsenal and Liverpool must show that the title race is not over yet, it is only two points left

(Top Photos: Getty Images)