LIVERPOOL, England – Manchester City’s success under Pep Guardiola proves that making history has become so routine that it seems you don’t even notice. But City are three wins away from another domestic treble after a 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday secured their place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
There was a late defeat against Carlo Ancelotti’s team. Ilkay Gündogan’s header in the 84th minute. Substitute Kevin De Bruyne doubled the lead six minutes later, but the end result was what we are used to from a City team: a win.
In cup competitions this season, City have won 15 and drawn one in 16 games, including a draw in a Champions League group game against Porto. And they’ve won 25 of their last 26 games in all competitions in the last month. The only disappointment was the 2-0 defeat against Manchester United earlier this month.
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At least the home defeat to United showed that City can be beaten in pre-season, but those days are as rare as Halley’s comet, so we may be waiting a while for the next one. As a result, there is now a sense of inevitability in their pursuit of the three trophies at home. When City won all three titles – Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup – in 2019, it was the first time in the history of English football and was rightly hailed as a unique achievement. But here we are, two years later, and they have a chance to do it again.
With City still in the Champions League and facing Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals next month, they could go one step further and book a four-goal haul that would forever surpass the historic Champions League-Premier League Cup-football trible of 1999. But while the road to Champions League glory is blocked by the formidable presence of Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals, the road to domestic glory is less dangerous.
With a 14-point lead over second-placed United (who have played fewer games) in the Premier League, it would take an unprecedented defeat by City for Guardiola’s men to miss out on a third title in four seasons, so success is guaranteed. Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho could surprise City in the Carabao Cup final next month, but not if things continue to go the way they have lately. And in the FA Cup, Chelsea, United and Leicester City can still frustrate, but the reality is that Guardiola’s team would be favourites to beat them all if they met them in the semi-finals or final. Southampton, who beat Bournemouth on Saturday to reach the semi-finals, would not have been able to stop City’s attack either.
Manchester City beat Everton 2-0 on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Lawrence Griffiths – Football Association/Football Federation via Getty Images
But the most worrying warning for clubs still in contention for the FA Cup was City’s victory over Everton.
Ancelotti’s side, desperate to win their first major trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995, pushed City to Goodison. Defensively they held their own, with third-choice goalkeeper Joao Virginia and central defender Ben Godfrey particularly impressing. In midfield, Alan battled it out with Fernandinho, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison gave central defenders Ruben Diaz and Aymeric Laporte a hard time. But despite their best efforts, Everton failed to put City goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who filled in for Ederson, to the test enough to score on a day when Guardiola’s side lacked their usual liveliness.
It is the depth of the city’s quality that brings them closer to high-frequency repetition. As extra time approached, Guardiola was able to bring on De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez on the bench and Everton finally scored when Gundogan scored after a shot by Laporte was deflected off the crossbar by Virginia. When De Bruyne made it 2-0 shortly afterwards, the score did not reflect the balance of the match, but it was a measure of City’s ability to withstand the pressure and eventually win the equaliser.
It was a very difficult match, Guardiola said. We saw the commitment of Everton, how concentrated they were and they defended very aggressively, but we didn’t give up a goal, we were patient. It was one of the hardest games of the last four months.
Guardiola is right, it was a very difficult game for City, but despite the challenge they overcame it and won. That’s what this City team does week after week, making it impossible for anyone to stop them in England.
Bayern or PSG may be immovable objects in the Champions League, but City have won six of the last nine trophies at home in the competition. At the moment there seems to be only one winner in all competitions in England, and that is Manchester City.
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