Manchester City were in a miserable place in early February. The defeat to Spurs, which threatened to bring Liverpool’s title coronation earlier, was memorably confirmed by Steven Bergwijn’s debut goal.

Pep Guardiola had honest talks with his players thereafter, then their winter break was extended by a postponed home fixture with West Ham due to bad weather. 

Further bad news hit, however, with the announcement of City’s European transfer ban, although now going through the appeal process.

Guardiola’s men have returned reinvigorated, with the squad’s attention clearly remaining focused on matters of the pitch. 

The triumphant City squad celebrate their Carabao Cup success. (Reuters)

City decimated Leicester before stunning Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid with a tactical masterclass in the Champions League. The Sky Blues also lifted the Carabao Cup after a controlled 2-1 final victory over Aston Villa, then qualified for the FA Cup quarter-finals after beating Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. 

Although they have yet failed to keep Aymeric Laporte consistently on the pitch, City have tightened up at the back, with Fernandinho replacing Laporte at Bernabéu and putting in a good shift. Aston Villa’s consolation goal is only the second goal they’ve conceded in five games since the break.

READ ALSO: Fernandinho relevance

The Premier League: A new decade in perspective

Indeed, Manchester City are still in for a treble.

Liverpool’s 44-game Unbeaten run was spectacularly halted at Vicarage Road. (Getty Images)
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool Juggernaut has slowed down nevertheless since returning from the much-needed rest. Alarmingly, the rest which seemed to favour Liverpool’s final push to a long-awaited Premier League title has disrupted their momentum. 

Three away defeats in the last four matches in three competitions ensures no treble or domestic double for the Kop this season, who also fell five games short of matching Arsenal’s 49 games unbeaten record. 

READ: Why Liverpool’s Unbeaten run came to an end

READ ALSO: How did Liverpool cope with the loss of Fabinho?

    The Champions League last 16 defeat at Atlético Madrid might have combined an outstanding defensive effort with a vociferous home support; Nigel Pearson’s Watford almost repeated the trick with a bigger 3-nil shellacking before Chelsea finally got the better of Klopp 2-0 in the FA Cup.

    The Reds have failed to score in three of the last four games, conceding eight goals.

    Mistakes and lapses have been severely punished, but Liverpool have lacked the extra bit of sharpness which has set them apart for so long. Needless to say, it is as a consequence of the standards they have set for themselves in the last few years.

    Liverpool must pick themselves up, and quickly, before Atleti roll into town for the Anfield leg of their European tie. 

    However, Pep’s men have utilized the break to rest and refocus their thoughts. Leicester’s current wobble opened up a possble second-placed finish with Leroy Sané set to strengthen the squad with an imminent return from injury. 

    Guardiola celebrates with Man-of-the-match Phil Foden after the Carabao Cup final. (Reuters)

    City have their eyes set on another special treble this season, a chance provided them by the Premier League’s first winter break.

    The same break which halted Liverpool. 

    Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

    Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Blog Meets Brand