EPL: Guardiola puts quadruple talk aside, Chelsea in top-four chase

Manchester City can return to the top of the Premier League with a victory against Cardiff City on Wednesday, while Chelsea can move into the top four.

Pep Guardiola says even Liverpool in the 1980s and Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson never won the quadruple.   -  Reuters

Pep Guardiola wants to put talk of a historic quadruple to one side as Manchester City embark upon a season-defining month.

It has eight matches in April, which begins on Wednesday with a Premier League clash with struggling Cardiff at the Etihad Stadium.

Victory over Cardiff will enable City to leapfrog Liverpool and go one point clear at the top as it tries to retain the title.

Then attention will turn to the FA Cup semifinal with Brighton at Wembley on Saturday before the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal against Tottenham next Tuesday.

The games are coming thick and fast and a single defeat could be fatal to its hopes of doing a clean sweep.

Guardiola is a keen student of the game and he recognises the enormity of what his players are trying to achieve.

“From my experience why should you play for the quadruple when it has never happened in this country?” he said.

“Legendary teams like Liverpool in the 1980s, Sir Alex Ferguson’s period at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Arsene Wenger with Arsenal. Nobody did it. Why should we? “We can’t forget that even the team that won the treble with Sir Alex Ferguson - an incredible team in 1998/99 - won the league with 79 points.

“In the semifinal of the FA Cup, they had 10 v 11 and Ryan Giggs ran past five or six and in final of the Champions League at the Camp Nou, everyone knows what happened there.

“To win the treble was so tough. They won the Premier League by one point, the Roy Keane red card and Dennis Bergkamp misses the penalty in the cup semifinal, and Bayern hitting the crossbar two times and then United scored with the last two corners (in the Champions League final).

“The spirit and desire to win the treble was there and of course the quality of everybody at United means they did it but it shows how difficult it is the way they won it.”

Guardiola knows the odds are against City winning all four trophies, given the luck required and also the quality of the opposition in the Premier League and Champions League.

Read: 'Chelsea started the season too well'

“The treble has only happened once in all our lives,” he said.

“My players can think about it but the reality is Cardiff. It’s about winning the game, recovery and then, what’s next. That is the best way.

“When we are at the end of April and I get asked this question I will say yes or no. But today it is far away.”

City has a potential 14 games left this season and something would be riding on all of them.

—Chelsea in four-horse race—

Chelsea came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Cardiff City on Sunday and can move into the top four if Tottenham Hotspur, which plays Crystal Palace at home, draws or loses on Wednesday. Manchester United, which lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday, and Arsenal are the two other teams battling to finish in the top four.

Chelsea is at home to Brighton and Hove Albion, which it beat in the away fixture earlier this season.

A hamstring injury has ruled Marcos Alonso out of this fixture, while Davide Zappacosta and Ethan Ampadu are the other players with an injury cloud hanging over them.

Brighton will play the FA Cup semifinal this Saturday against Manchester City and manager Chris Hughton might be rotating his squad.

Florin Andone is back in contention after missing three fixtures.

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