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Friday 18 April 2014

Man City to the fore - Can Pellegrini lead his side to the quadruple?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebratesafter scoring his team's fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Cardiff City at the Etihad Stadium on January 18, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Sergio Aguero will be crucial to City's hopes of silverware this season

Man United broke new ground in 1999 with the Treble, but could their near neighbours possibly go one better this season?

Like their Manchester rivals 15 years ago, they will need more than their fair share of luck to pull off such a remarkable feat.

The odds are clearly against Manuel Pellegrini’s side to claim four pieces of silverware, especially with Barcelona on the horizon, but sitting pretty in the League, about to reach the Capital One Cup Final and showing Blackburn no mercy in the FA Cup, it remains a possibility.

Here is how they are shaping up with four months left in the campaign.

Premier League

The title looks to be moving towards a three-team race and City are right in the mix of it, one point behind the Gunners and one clear of Chelsea. Simply invincible at home, the bad news for the rest of the league is that their away form has picked up immeasurably, winning four of their last five away games and drawing the other.

Arguably the strongest squad in the league, a Joe Hart blunder cost them dearly at the Bridge while they put Arsenal to the sword before Christmas, they will be confident of holding their own against those sides around them. Have a relatively comfortable end of season fixture list, with West Brom, Palace, Everton and West Ham their final four games.

Unbeaten since the shock defeat to Sunderland in November, they are the bookies favourites to prize the title away from Old Trafford.

Champions League

Skeptics of a quadruple will rightly point to Europe as the biggest obstacle and while the draw against the Catalan giants has football fans everywhere gripped, it will be a tall order to knock Barcelona out, even if they are struggling to scale the heights of previous years.

The Citizens have been shown up by Bayern Munich on a number of occasions in recent years and any weakness in defence – Vincent Kompany aside – could be cruelly exposed at the Nou Camp.

Almost guaranteed to score at home, it will be the return away leg that will decide their fate. Barca are top of La Liga, but there has been chinks in the armour and if they are still in the competition on March 13th, supporters can rightly start dreaming of the final in Lisbon.

FA Cup

The biggest question is just how seriously they will take the competition. A draw away to Blackburn provided more questions than answers, but the demolition in the replay showed just what they are capable of in the right mood.

Next up are Watford who must be bracing themselves for a difficult afternoon at the Etihad, even if Pellegrini does decide to rest some of his big names.

Not that it should matter at this stage of the competition as City’s bench against Rovers included Aguero, Kolarov, Hart and Zabaleta.

Capital One Cup

A six goal drubbing of West Ham in the semi-final first leg was an emphatic signal of intent, though ably assisted by one of the poorest defensive performances ever mustered by a Sam Allardyce side.

Would hope that United prevail in the other semi-final to set up an intriguing decider and on current form, would be hard to see David Moyes’ struggling side overcome the ‘noisy neighbours’. Though  Sunderland will have something to say about that.

Odds on to claim their first piece of silverware of the season.

The question now is just how many they will end up with?

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