Friday, 21 March 2014 | MYT 9:59 PM
Eight days to glory for the Citizens
Manchester City’s Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini. — AFP
OVER the next eight days Manchester City will play three league matches – against Fulham on Saturday, Manchester United on Tuesday and Arsenal next Saturday.
And it is during this period when City will get the chance to lay down the gauntlet. It could also be that the Citizens will have assumed top spot in the standings.
On the other side of the coin, it could be that City are out of the race for a second Premiership crown in three seasons.
The constant denominator in the talk from the Etihad is to focus on the next game – taking each one as it comes. This the dedicated approach of the management team spearheaded by Manuel Pellegrini, but one cannot help looking ahead to Tuesday and then next Saturday.
As things stand, City have the cushion to actually lose a game and still win the title. They are six points behind leaders Chelsea but have three games in hand.
Those distractions obviously encourage losing sight of Saturday’s fixture and are why Pellegrini telling his players to train their concentration on the job at hand – Fulham.
Indeed, German master coach Felix Magath was specifically brought in to lift the Craven Cottage side out of the relegation zone and their win over Newcastle last weekend gave clear indication that they mean business and possess the resolve to escape the drop.
Thus, City will almost certainly find it a difficult task when the London side visit Manchester on Saturday.
All the same, the home team will be expected to see off the Cottagers and then shift their sights squarely on Old Trafford.
City showed good character against Hull last weekend, where they played for 80-odd minutes with 10 men and still won 2-0. Vincent Kompany was sent off in the process and will be missing on Saturday. That win was evidence that at last City have got the steel back in them, if anyone needed to be reminded.
With Chelsea entertaining Arsenal on Saturday, where the visitors could come good, a home win at the Etihad and a third victory over the Red Devils at Old Trafford on Tuesday could see Pellegrini’s side go top of the table even before the week is out.
To suggest that this might be the way it unfolds could easily be misconstrued to be counting one’s chickens before they hatch, or even downright arrogance. But it is hardly the case. It is merely how teams look to their forthcoming games and attempt to calculate things as they might come to pass.
So, for City, their three matches over the next week will almost surely prove pivotal in their campaign to regain the title from their cross-town rivals – something they did back in May 2012.
Shaun Orange is hoping for City to win their next three games and an Arsenal victory on Saturday.