Not one but three Top Four candidates take the Premier League pitches of England on Wednesday, including the assured Top Two side hoping to reclaim its place atop the Premier League table.
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Manchester City will not have Sergio Aguero when Cardiff City visits, but few are debating the result of the match rather how much cushion Pep Guardiola‘s men can supply to their 7-goal lead over title rivals Liverpool in goal differential.
Guardiola still refuses to admit that winning four trophies — the league, League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League — is a real possibility, though he may be getting a little sly when he talks about a quadruple.
“I’m not in the mind of my players fans or club to say what they think.” he said. “But from my experience, nobody has ever done it before, the legendary teams like Liverpool in the 80s, United with Ferguson, Mourinho with Chelsea, Wenger with Arsenal, nobody has done it. It’s so tough.”
A cynic would translate that as, “Look at all those legends who didn’t do it, but hey, I mean, what would that make us if we did?”
Back to Wednesday’s action: Man City needs the win to climb back over Liverpool and take a one-point lead in the race for the Premier League crown. It’s about that time in the season when we note the possibility that Guardiola’s men can become the first back-to-back winners since Manchester United won a third-straight title in 2008-09.
Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock is still fuming from the Bluebirds’ loss to Chelsea at the weekend, and he’s ready for his team to put that anger into an improbable run at safety. Cardiff opens the day in 18th place, five points back of three teams.
And Warnock is painting his men as the biggest underdogs, maybe ever. From WalesOnline:
“(Man City) have got two teams in their squad and I doubt any of our squad could get in either of them,” he said. “But I doubt if anyone in the bottom half of the table could get in either of them. They’ve just taken the Premier League to another level. It’s an amazing level.
“And you’re not only pitting your wits against the very best – possibly in the world, let alone Europe – the thing is I think it’s the highest odds in a game there’s ever been in the Premier League. 40/1 to win a game in a two horse race! The bookies say they’ve never seen betting like this apparently. That’s in reality how difficult it’s going to be.”
Also on the docket: Spurs open their brand new stadium against Crystal Palace, with the pregame festivities all a part of the NBCSN broadcast.
As a bonus, Tottenham Hotspur saw Manchester United lose to Wolves on Tuesday and can move three points clear of the Red Devils.
On the flip side, Spurs open the day in fourth place with 61 points and could be outside the Top Four if it fails to win and Chelsea defeats Brighton and Hove Albion.
Maurizio Sarri will expect a win after the poor performance and subsequent let-off against Cardiff City, and he hopes the fans will be on his side… or at least his players’ side.
“At the moment, we are a very good group, so I think it’s not helpful for my players,” he said. “For me, it’s not a big problem. I’m not happy, but it’s not a big problem. I am 60, so I can understand. But when I was 25, probably it was different. … It can happen. It’s normal, I think. We need to improve. We need to play better. We want to try to change their opinion.”
Brighton has been dragged into the relegation scrap and will use up its match-in-hand on Southampton.