Fixture congestion and the strength at the top of the Premier League feel like the only things — aside from red cards and odd bounces — that will stop Manchester City from maximizing its potential this season.
If City beats Crystal Palace this weekend, they’ll meet Pep Guardiola‘s Bayern Munich record of 19-straight wins in a season. A win over Watford the next match day breaks the record.
Here are some matches that could get in the way of City’s near-perfect run (Number where it would fall on the win streak is in parenthesis).
Jan. 14 at Liverpool (22) — Drawing Bristol City in the League Cup semifinals helped Man City’s chances in this one, as Pep Guardiola’s men will be able to focus a bit more on the league match vs. Liverpool five days later. The Reds are still smarting from their 5-0, 10-man beatdown at the Etihad Stadium, and will have Virgil Van Dijk in the fold this go-round.
Feb. 10 vs. Leicester City (26) — While it’s difficult to consider Man City losing its streak at home to a non-Champions League club, the Foxes have strength in all thirds on their day. Plus, Man City is off to Basel for a UEFA Champions League first leg three days later.
March 7 vs. Chelsea (28) — Similar to above, as City hosts Basel on March 7. Plus, Antonio Conte can organize a side to frustrate any unit.
April 7 vs Manchester United (32) -and- April 14 vs. Tottenham Hotspur (33) — Obviously the competition is good, as United will likely have Paul Pogba this time around, but how many of these sides will be contending with two Champions League legs around these fixtures? It feels like United bests Sevilla and City handles Basel, but if Spurs fall to Juventus they’ll be lying in wait with two matches in a fortnight as opposed to four.
BONUS — Wherever a League Cup Final drops Feb. 25’s visit to Arsenal — Presuming Man City handles its business against Bristol City, the League Cup Final will move this season’s trip to Arsenal. When Manchester United qualified for the League Cup Final last season, it moved the Manchester Derby to late April. For opponents Southampton, their fixture versus Arsenal was moved to mid-May.