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UEFA Champions League

Guardiola and treble-chasing Manchester City face balancing act



Champions League - Semi Final - First Leg - Real Madrid v Manchester City - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 9, 2023 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola before the match REUTERS/Juan Medina

Pep Guardiola faces a meticulous balancing act in Manchester City’s quest for a treble, having to fend off Arsenal in their chase for a third consecutive Premier League title while keeping one eye on their bid for a first Champions League trophy.

City play desperate Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday in what could be a pivotal Premier League game for both teams.

Guardiola’s side are just a point clear of Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand, with four matches remaining, and with the Gunners refusing to go away the Spanish manager has little luxury to rest players.

Everton are two points and one place above the relegation zone.

City are on course to match their local rivals Manchester United, who achieved the feat in 1999, by capturing the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in the same season. They have won 10 straight in the Premier League and are unbeaten in 21 games in all competitions.


Guardiola, one of the game’s most successful managers, could be on track for arguably the finest season of his career.

He has led City to four Premier League crowns, but has never tasted Champions League glory with the club, having won the competition twice with Barcelona.

City will host Real Madrid, winners of five of the last nine Champions League titles, in a gripping second leg of their semi-final on Wednesday after drawing 1-1 in the opener.

He is confident City will not fold under the pressure of chasing three trophies, having said several times of late that his players have the mental strength to stay the course at season’s end when there is so much on the line.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal on Sunday host Brighton & Hove Albion, who have had a wild swing of results, beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 6-0 before losing 5-1 to Everton. It is anybody’s guess which Brighton squad will show up against Arsenal.


Fifth-placed Liverpool are making a late charge for the top four and a spot in Europe’s lucrative Champions League, teetering just a point off Manchester United having played one match more.

Juergen Klopp’s team travel to Leicester City to face a Foxes side in a desperate fight to avoid relegation. They are 18th, two points behind Everton.

Two points separate Newcastle and Manchester United, with the Magpies in third on 63 points and United with 65 with both teams having four games to play.

Ruben Selles’s Southampton side are on the brink of relegation, in last place.

Southampton, who are six points adrift of Leicester City and Leeds United and eight adrift of Everton in 17th, will be relegated if they drop points to Fulham at home on Saturday, which has long seemed inevitable amid a woeful season in which they sacked two managers.


Selles was appointed on Feb. 24 after the firing of Nathan Jones, but the interim boss has not been able to right the Saints’ sinking ship with just one win in his 12 Premier League games in charge.

Both Leeds and Leicester City play their next games at home with Leeds facing Newcastle at Elland Road on Saturday and Leicester City hosting Liverpool on Monday.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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