With Manchester City’s recent 5-0 FA Cup win they have taken their goal scoring tally to 99 goals so far this season. They are also still competing in all four major competitions bringing up the possibility of being the first English team to win the vaunted Quadruple, which would also be one better than their red neighbors own Treble from 1998-99. This brings up the question of whether Manchester City has any weakness at this point.
In a recent interview the veteran Manchester City defender, Micah Richards, stated that, “Apparently our second-string team beat Blackburn 5-0. I don’t think there are any weaknesses in the squad.” He also brought up the idea that they could win the quadruple, although they are trying not to focus on that.
While they may think they have no weaknesses, this is not entirely true. I do believe that they will win the Premier League, as I have addressed in my mid-season Premier League predictions, but I do not believe they have enough for the quadruple or even the treble. I would say they have a great chance of winning the EPL and the Capital One League Cup to get a first season double for Pellegrini.
Here are my three weaknesses that can be exploited.
1.) Manchester City still have some shakiness at the back.
When comparing this team to the title winning squad of 2011-12 the goal difference seems to be the biggest point of comparison. After 21 matches played in the 11-12 season they had a goal difference of 41 while allowing only 16 goals. At this same point this season they have a GD of 36 and have allowed 23 goals, while scoring 59. They finished that season with a +64 goal difference after scoring 93 goals and allowing just 29 all season.
They have certainly shored up their defenses recently and in their current 16 game unbeaten streak have allowed just 17 goals, the point is that they do have a mistake in them and will give up the goals. Where they have excelled is their ability to outscore their opponents, even when they give up goals. In that same time they have been held to two 1-1 draws away from home.
In recent matches they have been able to regain their defensive solidity, but this has largely coincided with the return of Vincent Kompany. A recurrence of injury to him or even a build up of other defensive injuries, could lead to a return to their problems at the back.
Against their main rivals they have continued to give up goals including five to Bayern Munich, three to Arsenal, two to Chelsea, and one to Liverpool.
2.) Away form could still be an issue, along with injuries.
While the Citizens seem to have overcome their difficulties in winning away, there is still the chance of this returning. Again, this is something that could be a problem if they begin to lose key players, particularly their defenders.
The return to form of players like Kompany, Kolarov, Zabaleta, and even Hart mean that they have become formidable across the length of the pitch. Losing one of these players may not be a problem, but losing one of these players along with the likes of Fernandinho or Toure, could become a problem. Yaya Toure has had niggling problems throughout most of the season and this could become more of a problem as the season wears on.
Returning to the problem of away form is the fact that they still have some difficult away matches coming up. While teams like Tottenham and Manchester United might be significantly farther below them, those are both very tricky trips. Especially when you consider the revenge both teams will be seeking after humiliating losses at the Etihad.
Even more dangerous than either of those matches is the fact they still have to travel to Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal. All three of these matches will be massive, especially the Everton match coming on the second to last week of the season.
3.) Cup competitions can always provide an upset.
While they are competing in four competitions, three of those are cup tournaments, including the FA Cup during which there is still the chance of a one off shock upset. While the Capital One Cup is nearly a lock to get into the final, the final itself is still a one off match in which anything can happen.
The Champions League is a beast of its own. To win the Champions League they will need to beat Barcelona over two legs. While they should be able to win at home, travelling to the Camp Nou and facing the Catalan giants is no small task. Even being able to win at home is no sure thing. What will be helping them is the fact that Barca’s two stars, Lionel Messi and Neymar, are currently hampered by injuries. While they may still have time to recover, the simple fact that they have been injured at all means that they may not be fully fit.
Even if they do beat Barcelona they will still have to get through a two-legged semi-final against another top European side and face the difficulties of a late May final against yet another quality European team. This also means that the grueling task of playing in so many matches to date could be taking its toll. The one off final matches add that extra bit of uncertainty in which, even if they are the better team, they can still lose. Just look at the instances of past teams that were able to overcome better teams to win the trophy (i.e. Liverpool 2005 and Chelsea 2012).
While Manchester City are the strongest team in the league with amazing depth and attacking talent second to none, they do still have weaknesses. In sports its impossible to say that a team is invulnerable and everyone must remember that on any given day any team can come up with a win if the circumstances are right.
What do you think? Can Manchester City win the quadruple or the treble? Does Manchester City have any weaknesses?