Monday, December 5, 2022

Man City lining up for the same fixture predicament that Pep Guardiola keeps bemoaning about.

Man City lining up for the same fixture predicament that Pep Guardiola keeps bemoaning about.

We are again getting ready for another ten months of Pep Guardiola grumbling about the fixture calendar in press conferences.

With the publicity of the 2021/22 fixture list, supporters have been reacting to a tantalizing opener at Tottenham and all the Harry Kane speculation that will come with it.

Then, a more comprehensive look at the opening few weeks of the term might have begun to worry some fans, with several difficult away trips against possible title rivals to start the season.

However, the upside of that is a much more preferable run-in at the end of the season when Manchester City will be hoping to continue to be fighting on four fronts.

Last season, City joined the finals of two cup competitions and the semi-finals of another, playing 61 games of a potential 62 in an already stuffed season.

And if they want to do even greater in 2021/22, then they will face a comparable fixture pile-up after studying the schedule for the new season.

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After Guardiola regularly called for greater protection for players regarding the football calendar, the new season could see a repeat of matches every three or four days if the Blues are thriving in the cups.

And if they do that, they face a situation where they don’t have a free midweek to rest between September and May – and only three all season.

Into October and November and there is a similar pattern, with Champions League, Carabao Cup and a midweek round of Premier League games keeping the games coming thick and fast.

Christmas is always a stuffed time, with seven league games between December 4 and January 1, plus a final Champions League group game plus a possible Carabao Cup quarter-final.

The schedule wouldn’t let up in the new year, particularly if the Carabao Cup relapses to two-legged semi-finals and City reach that stage. Those games, plus the start of City’s engagement in the FA Cup would see another six games before a much-needed winter break at the end of the month.

When the break is up, the Champions League returns, assuming City are in the knockout stages again. There are five possible midweek slots between February and the March international break, with two to be taken up with the Champions League last-16.

Another would go to an FA Cup fifth round tie, with the other two potentially going to rearranged Premier League fixtures – that is because the Carabao Cup final and FA Cup quarter-finals are likely to be scheduled for weekend dates in the same period.

Into the run-in, and there are three available midweeks before the end of the season, not including the Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Should City enter the FA Cup final, two of those weeks would have to be used for reset Premier League matches for the semi-final and final. That bequests just one free midweek, which could always get used if other games are delayed or moved.

So Guardiola will have to run his squad as he did last year – one game at a time, with plenty of rotation, and apparently a few complaints to the authorities in the process.

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Man City lining up for the same fixture predicament that Pep Guardiola keeps bemoaning about.

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