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Man City's fixture pile-up assessed: Guardiola's men face 9 games in 31 days

  /  autty

Manchester City face a fixture pile-up - including nine games in 31 days - in the coming months as they look to fight on four fronts.

The rescheduling of City's home match with West Ham - moved from last Sunday to February 19 due to Storm Ciara - as well as the still TBC home clash with Arsenal, means Pep Guardiola faces selection dilemmas as he chases success both in Europe and domestically.

From February 19 to March 21, City currently have nine games scheduled, a game roughly every three-and-a-half days, with the potential for more rescheduling beyond that if they make the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Sitting 22 points off the leaders, Guardiola has already conceded the Premier League title to Liverpool, and with a 12-point buffer between City and fifth place, a Champions League spot is looking likely.

As per new rules, any place in the top four will be rewarded with a group stage spot in the Champions League, so while Guardiola will want to finish as high as possible in the Premier League, a slip in positions in the Premier League would not be overly detrimental.

However, the quality of City's upcoming opposition may concern Guardiola, providing a stern test ahead of and after the Carabao Cup final and pivotal Champions League two-legged last-16 tie with Real Madrid.

City start their manic period against West Ham on February 19, before going to Leicester on February 22, and then Real Madrid just four days later.

That is followed four days later by the Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa at Wembley, and a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth round three days later, luckily with no replays if the game is drawn.

Then comes a short trip to Manchester United in the Premier League four days later, followed by a rare six-day gap before a home game with Burnley.

But that is just three days before the return leg against Real Madrid at the Etihad on March 17.

The tough games don't stop there though, with a trip to Chelsea on March 21 and then a home clash with Liverpool after the international break on April 4.

Do Real have an advantage?

You'd think so, looking at the above schedule. However, Real have exactly the same amount of time to rest before both Champions League last-16 legs, and are still competitive in La Liga.

They also play four days before the February 26 first leg, a trip to Levante on February 22, and they should also have just a three-day break between their La Liga game at home to Eibar, provisionally scheduled for March 14 (though yet to be confirmed) and their trip to the Etihad on March 17.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will also have tougher selection dilemmas, with his side currently top of La Liga, just three points ahead of Barcelona.

But overall their schedule is slightly easier, with eight games in a 35-day period, compared to City's nine games in 31 days.

Success at a price

As the current schedule goes, City will play midweek and weekend for over four weeks in February and March, but the relentless run could continue if they are successful in both the FA Cup and Champions League.

If City make the FA Cup quarter-final, their March 21 fixture at Chelsea will have to be moved, with less midweek slots becoming available if they make the Champions League quarter-finals or semi-finals.

If City progress to the Champions League semis, they will be left with only three midweek slots in which to place rearranged fixtures, and if City reach the FA Cup semis, two of those three slots could be taken up by Premier League fixtures.

At present, the weeks of March 9, April 20 and May 11 are free.

Will this speed up Liverpool's coronation?

Pep Guardiola will hope to keep injury problems to a minimum through this difficult period, and expect him to dip into his reserves in the Premier League, which may see Liverpool claim the title earlier than expected.

If Liverpool and City keep winning their Premier League games, Liverpool can win the title at Anfield against Crystal Palace on Saturday, March 21, live on Sky Sports.

The very earliest Liverpool could win the title is at home against Bournemouth on Saturday, March 7. However that would mean Liverpool winning all of their matches, City slipping up in all, and Leicester beating City but not winning any other game.

If Liverpool keep winning, City drop three points and Leicester drop any points between now and the Merseyside derby, Jurgen Klopp's side would claim the title at Goodison Park on March 16.

Of course, Liverpool could also secure the league title at the Etihad on the weekend of April 4, which could also be the game Liverpool equal Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten Premier League run.