Can anyone stop Man City? The key questions around their quadruple bid

Andy Hampson, PA

Manchester City have won their last 21 matches in all competitions and are in contention for an unprecedented quadruple.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what they could accomplish and if they could come unstuck.

Is winning four trophies really realistic?

City won the domestic treble two years ago
City won the domestic treble two years ago (Peter Byrne/PA)

Given how much of the season remains, the quadruple does still seem a bit fantastical at this stage, but City are making it become more of a possibility with each passing game. Certainly no side has ever had a better chance of claiming all four trophies available and, after winning a treble two years ago, it is not too much of a stretch to think they could add one more this time around. They are well on course for Premier League glory and are favourites to see off Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final.

Who else stands in their way?

Manchester City face Carlo Ancelotti's Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals
Manchester City face Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals (Jon Super/PA).

The FA Cup and Champions League could be more problematic. Assessed individually, they look the strongest side remaining in both, but there are plenty of other decent teams too. Everton is a tricky enough quarter-final in the FA Cup, but Manchester United, Leicester or Chelsea could lie in wait if they get through. They look likely to reach the last eight of the Champions League at Borussia Monchengladbach’s expense, but they could face a big gun such as Bayern Munich or Paris St Germain next.

Can anyone really stop them?

City's victory over Wolves on Tuesday was their 21st in succession in all competitions
City’s victory over Wolves on Tuesday was their 21st in succession in all competitions (Carl Recine/PA)

On current form, it is hard to see anyone stopping City. Having gone 28 games unbeaten overall, they have formidable momentum. In the Premier League at least, it looks increasingly unlikely that they will be stopped and they will carry the confidence that comes with their winning form into the other competitions. None of the other big names remaining in the Champions League are lording it over their rivals domestically in the way City currently are in England, not even Bayern. Whether City succeed or not will come down to the vagaries of knockout football or if their past fallibilities in Europe resurface.

How could a team beat them?

Tactically outsmarting Guardiola is a tough task
Tactically outsmarting Guardiola is a tough task (Clive Brunskill/PA)

The law of averages would suggest there should be a stumble somewhere along the line for City, but it is hard to see where. Pep Guardiola has managed the side superbly and paced the campaign well. He may have been fortunate with injuries compared to rivals but has made full use of a squad with a depth of quality. He tends to make a handful of changes each game, allowing him to keep many of his players in form. There is no reliance on big-name stars such as Kevin De Bruyne or Raheem Sterling. Tactically, he is also so astute, with City starving teams of possession but having toned down the intensity of their pressing to preserve energy in a condensed schedule.

Are there no weaknesses?

Manchester City have fallen short in the Champions League in recent seasons
Manchester City have fallen short in the Champions League in recent seasons (Martin Rickett/PA).

It is difficult for any opponent to pinpoint a weakness. If there is one it is perhaps a failure to score the goals their domination often warrants. A plan could therefore be to absorb pressure and look to catch City cold with a sucker punch, but that is not so easy in practice. It may take other factors, such as injuries, suspensions or fixture congestion, to unsettle them. In addition, Europe has been their undoing in recent years and Guardiola’s tactics have fallen short. There is no doubt they are good enough to succeed on that stage but they have a monkey on their back they must remove.

How do they prioritise the competitions?

City are bidding to win the Carabao Cup for a fourth year in succession
City are bidding to win the Carabao Cup for a fourth year in succession (Mike Egerton/PA)

Guardiola always says winning the Premier League is his number one objective but, given that City now have a healthy lead, he may be able to give even greater focus to the Champions League. Given they have already reached the final of the Carabao Cup, that competition would probably be priority number three, although there is a possibility they may have to play a Champions League semi-final two days after their Wembley date with Spurs. It would be interesting to see how that could impact Guardiola’s planning.