EPL

What next for treble-chasing Man City after sealing Premier League title?

By Sports Desk May 22, 2023

Manchester City are celebrating another Premier League title but their season is far from done as they also target FA Cup and Champions League success.

Here, the PA news agency looks at their plans for their coming weeks.

How will Pep Guardiola approach their final two Premier League games?

With the Premier League title race over, City can afford to ease up for their two remaining league games – away to Brighton and Brentford – before switching attention to their two finals.

The line-up for Sunday’s dead rubber against Chelsea, when manager Guardiola named most of his big guns on the bench, showed he intends to lighten his star names’ load. Yet there is also a need to keep players sharp and prevent rustiness.

There may be a clue to his thinking in the line-ups for the two Premier League games immediately prior to the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid. In those matches, against West Ham and Leeds, Guardiola gave all his starting XI against Madrid game time but only one – Erling Haaland – started both. We could see a similar approach with half the first-choice side starting the first game, and the other half the second.

Are there any injury concerns?

City have had a good season in terms of squad fitness with relatively few injuries. Defender Nathan Ake is currently their only sidelined player with a hamstring problem.

The Netherlands international has enjoyed a fine campaign but time is short. He may need to get some action against either Brighton or Brentford to have a chance of starting against Manchester United at Wembley or Inter Milan in Istanbul.

What will the approach to the finals from City be?

Obviously it is hard to make predictions but it is notable that Guardiola named the same side for City’s three biggest games of recent weeks – the crunch Premier League clash with Arsenal and both legs against Real Madrid.

With performance levels in those games outstanding, it would appear he has found his ideal big-match XI. There could be some room for deviation in the FA Cup – for instance Stefan Ortega has been the regular domestic cup starting keeper and Riyad Mahrez’s semi-final hat-trick may earn him another outing – but the side for Istanbul would seem at least pencilled in.

Can Manchester United stop City winning the treble?

United’s fans may view their own team as the best hope of stopping City emulating their famous 1999 treble. City will be firm favourites to win both finals but Manchester derbies can be unpredictable.

City thrashed their neighbours 6-3 in October but United got revenge when they met again at Old Trafford in January. There was some controversy over United’s equaliser in the 2-1 win but the Red Devils proved they can compete with City on a given day.

City, of course, have hit their stride since and United’s mid-season charge has slowed, but Erik ten Hag’s team can shine on a one-off occasion.

Do Inter pose a threat to City?

After thrashing Madrid in the previous round, City seem destined to finally claim the Champions League prize this term. It is difficult to see Inter, currently the fourth best team in Serie A, containing them.

Yet the Italians are defensively strong and do pose a threat through the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and former City striker Edin Dzeko, so they may have a puncher’s chance.

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    Both Group C matches were drawn, with Serbia scoring late on against Slovenia, while England were held 1-1 by Denmark, with Gareth Southgate's team coming in for some criticism.

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    Critical Carra questions Southgate

    Southgate is facing plenty of scrutiny after two underwhelming England performances, even if the Three Lions are topping Group C.

    Jamie Carragher was among the pundits to question England's manager, as the former Liverpool defender posted on X: "Pleased Southgate has made changes, as by the look of England so far they are going to need real energy from the bench in every game. Disappointed Anthony Gordon wasn't one of those changes."

    Carragher subsequently posted that, while Euro 2024 has been a thrilling tournament so far, two of the poorer matches involved England. It's hard to argue with him, too.

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    Serbia kept their hopes alive by snatching a point late on against Slovenia.

    And beforehand, their fans were enjoying the atmosphere - and a little dance - in Munich.

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    England's performance left a lot to be desired in their 1-1 draw with Denmark, though Harry Kane did get on the scoresheet.

    He has now scored five Euros goals, behind only Alan Shearer (seven) and Wayne Rooney (six) for the Three Lions.

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    When sports collide

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  • From the streets of St Ann to Lisbon: Jody Brown’s first pro contract with Benfica the pinnacle of success on an inspiring journey From the streets of St Ann to Lisbon: Jody Brown’s first pro contract with Benfica the pinnacle of success on an inspiring journey

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    “I remember when I just started playing football with the boys in my community, I always aspired to play professionally, and to do so with a club like Benfica is an incredible honour. It’s a nice club, with a lot of history and I always strived to ensure that whichever club I join is one where I can improve and develop my game at a different level. So I’m really excited to join Benfica and can’t wait to get started,” she declared.

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    "Being a part of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz has been an amazing experience. It's where I learned to handle pressure and developed my game against some of the best players in the world and I can say that those experiences have prepared me for this next step in my career,” she shared.

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    “⁠I’m just ready to get settled and hopefully achieve all the goals of the team. I’m ready to adapt in every way possible because that’s a part of the journey of wanting to be the best person or player in an environment where you are not afraid to be yourself. I know what I’m capable of doing and I’m just going to continue learning and improving,” the soft-spoken player said with an air of confidence.

    Brown shows off her team scarf.

    Meanwhile, former Reggae Girlz Head coach Hue Menzies, who along with Lorne Donaldson, Andrew Price and others were instrumental in Brown’s move from Jamaica to an overseas university, pointed out that her signing is not only a personal achievement, but also a significant moment for Jamaican women's football.

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    “It shows that with talent and determination, they too can reach the pinnacle of the sport. We knew she was going to be a special player, so we invested the effort to get her through the process, because she was only 14, so we had to get her acclimated academically and then get her into the youth club system.

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    “So everything that we kind of set forward for her has come through so far, and we are very optimistic that she will continue. We can't take credit for Jody’s football development because she is a natural, we just assisted in the environment that we set got her in, and then she took it from there with the goals that she set for herself,” he ended. 

     

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