Manchester City, arguably the champions elect, who are currently 13 points ahead of their closest competitor Manchester United after 26 match-weeks, are on course for a historic season, with 4 titles on the line. The Carabao Cup against Arsenal, which they are heavy favourites to win, can represent their first title of the season.
With a relatively straight-forward Champions League Round of 16 tie against FC Basel, they will heavy favourites to advance to the quarterfinals. A 5th round FA Cup tie against the minnows from League 1, Wigan Athletic should not be a difficult proposition for the League leaders, with a deep run into the FA Cup expected.
Having summed up the path ahead, let’s focus on how the season pan out for Manchester City
Manchester City have 12 games left, with 6 of them away from home. A visit to Emirates Stadium and Wembley could prove to be their sternest test. Chelsea will also come calling at the Etihad Stadium, with the match taking place immediately after the Arsenal tie, with a 3 days recovery period. But their biggest test among them all will be the Manchester derby at home. With a comfortable away victory in the first Derby, City will be hot favourites to win the reverse fixture as well.
Both City and United will most probably be advancing into the last 8 of the Champions League and with the 1st leg scheduled in the week of the derby, it will be interesting to see how the two teams recover from the midweek fixture. Assuming the other fixtures to be considerably straight forward, given the form City have been in, the estimated final points tally can be computed as below-
Man City vs Leicester City - 3 points
Arsenal vs Man City - 1 point
Man City vs Chelsea - 3 point
Stoke City vs Man City - 3 points
Man City vs Brighton - 1 points
Everton vs Man City - 3 points
Man City vs Man Utd - Jose masterclass - City loss
Spurs vs Man City - 1 point
Man City vs Swansea - 3 points
West Ham vs Man City - 3 points
Man City vs Huddersfield - 1 point
Southampton vs Man City - 3 points
VERDICT: Total points tally = 69 + 25(36) = 94 points (1 short of Jose’s record)
Man City will face Arsenal at Wembley for the first title of the season (not counting the Community shield). Arsenal have had a terrific record at Wembley off late, winning three FA Cups and three Community Shields in the last 4 years. But that should not stop City from winning their first trophy of the season, with the gulf in offensive and defensive qualities big enough to suppress the chances of any upsets. Yes, Arsenal will be heavy underdogs to win the Carabao Cup and barring any miracles, City should win it fairly comfortably.
VERDICT: Man City win the Carabao Cup.
Manchester City face Wigan Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a match which they are expected to stroll through, just like they have been strolling through most of their opponents this season. With Liverpool and Arsenal already out, and the poor record of Spurs in terms of winning major trophies, Man City should expect to reach the finals at the least. Chelsea and Manchester United are the only real contenders for the FA Cup.
If City avoid at least one of the two, the going could get smooth, as Champions League and Premier League fixtures might force them into rotation. Man City are heavy favourites to win the title, but a deep run into the Champions League and wrapping up of Carabao Cup might force them to field second string sides in the FA Cup, with one Cup title already won.
VERDICT: Man City should reach the finals at the least. Winning the Cup might not be a surprise as well. The fate in Champions League and FA Cup are inter-linked. A deep run in the Champions League might have its consequences in the FA Cup.
Manchester City face FC Basel in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, a match which they must be expecting to overcome over two legs. With three out of PSG and Real Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham, FC Barcelona and Chelsea set to drop out the the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage and a straight forward tie for FC Bayern Munich, the going can get tough in the Quarter-finals.
Liverpool, AS Roma and Manchester United are expected to join Man City into the Quarter-finals. An enticing all English affair with either of Manchester United or Liverpool could prove tricky, but with the firepower and experience of Guardiola in winning it before could prove enough for City to reach the top 4.
VERDICT: A Semifinal showing seems increasingly likely since one of PSG and Real Madrid, both of whom were heavy favourites to reach the semis at the start of the season, drooping out at the Round of 16. It will all depend on their form in April from there, with a Champions League win not a distant dream anymore.
City can make history by winning it all, or they could become one of those teams who had the World on their feet in January but ran out of steam eventually. With the Premier League wrapped up and the Carabao Cup looking likely to head to Manchester, City have atleast two trophies in their bag. A final push could result in 3 trophies, with a quadruple and an unprecedented treble not out of reach either.