Manchester City enter a pivotal week in their attempts to win a quadruple haul of trophies. The Cityzens are coming off of a loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League, and on Sunday, must play Premier League rivals Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s team stammered through their Champions League quarterfinal first leg loss in a very off-colour performance. Striker Sergio Aguero had the chance to put Manchester City up early but his 13th minute penalty miss was as close as they would come to getting past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Manchester City could very well turn the tie around in the second leg as Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s latest ankle injury will keep him out of the fixture.
But before Manchester City can re-new their Champions League quarterfinal against Tottenham, they must play a Premier League team that defeated them in late December. Crystal Palace may not be near the top of the table, but they have proven a difficult team for both Manchester City and Liverpool to beat.
Liverpool struggled against Crystal Palace twice this season, and in their most recent meeting, the Reds had to come from behind in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield. Meanwhile, Manchester City lost to Crystal Palace at the Etihad pre-Christmas. Crystal Palace fell behind early but fought back to take all three points.
Manchester City’s loss to Crystal Palace, like their loss to Tottenham in midweek, was one of their typical moments in which they have failed to live up to the hype. Guardiola watched his side produce a similar performance against Newcastle in late January which enabled Liverpool to open up a small lead at the top of the table.
For as great as Manchester City’s attack has been this season, recent fixtures have not seen Aguero and company reach previous heights. Whether it is fatigue, fixture congestion, teams figuring out Manchester City’s tactics, or a combination of all three, they haven’t produced confident performances in several weeks.
Manchester City’s 6-0 demolition of Chelsea in early February is a distant memory. The Cityzens have score only nine goals in their five Premier League matches that followed the win over Chelsea.
Sure, they outscored opponents 9-1 in that time, but the level of competition wasn’t the highest. Those five wins came against West Ham, Bournemouth, Watford, Fulham, and Cardiff City.
None of those teams are higher than 10th in the Premier League table right now and only Watford managed a goal in a 3-1 loss. In fact, the Watford fixture was the only one in which Manchester City managed over 2.5 goals scored.
Manchester City’s Premier League and Champions League title hopes hinge on the coming week and a half. After facing Crystal Palace on Sunday, they will play Tottenham in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Etihad three days later.
Three days after their Champions League encounter, the Cityzens will tangle with Tottenham once more in the league, again at the Etihad. Then, there is the Manchester Derby against Manchester United which will take place on Wednesday night, April 24th. If there is a part of the season that Manchester City could lose the Premier League title, it is this portion.
But of course, Liverpool must beat Chelsea on Sunday in the league and continue winning to take advantage of any Manchester City slip-up. This season’s Premier League title race could be the best yet.