Pep Guardiola dismissed as “fantasy” the notion of his Manchester City players winning the quadruple this season.
It’s certainly a long shot but, on current form, it’s hard to see how or when they’ll next be beaten.
City swept past fellow English Premier League team Burnley 5-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, extending its run of wins to eight in all competitions. In that streak, the team has 33 goals and has not conceded a goal in the last six games — a first under Guardiola.
Kevin De Bruyne scored one goal — a powerful strike from the edge of the box — and had a hand in two others, with Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, and Sergio Aguero scoring along with an own-goal.
“Who is going to stop them winning everything if they are in that mood?” Burnley manager Sean Dyche asked.
City is second in the Premier League, four points behind Liverpool, and into the final of the English League Cup against Chelsea on Feb. 24. It also is through to the last 16 of the Champions League and was handed a favorable match against German outsider Schalke.
Guardiola is managing to rotate his squad for games in this fixture pileup without his starting team losing any of its fluidity. City’s bench against Burnley, for example, contained Aguero, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Leroy Sane. The latter two weren’t even needed as City made it 108 goals in 36 games for the season, an average of exactly three per match.
“Everyone has been involved this month. Everybody plays,” Guardiola said. “All together, we can achieve it, arriving at the latter stages (of the season) in the right moment. It’s the only way I understand when you are in four competitions.”
The FA Cup is the only domestic competition Guardiola has yet to win in England, after capturing the Premier League and League Cup last season. An embarrassing fifth-round loss to third-tier Wigan was one of City’s few low points last season and Guardiola is taking the FA Cup seriously this time around.
Everton manager Marco Silva is another coach who treats the FA Cup with respect. He fielded his strongest possible side against second-tier Millwall but still left The Den with a loss.
By losing 3-2 after conceding a 94th-minute goal, Everton became the sixth Premier League side to lose to lower-league opposition — after Fulham, Leicester, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Southampton.
A controversial goal from Jake Cooper, who used his hand to bundle the ball home, allowed Millwall to draw level at 2-2. Silva complained to the fourth official in the technical area after seeing the incident on the big screen. At the same time, Millwall coach Neil Harris was shouting up to the stands, demanding the screen stop showing the goal.
Then, in the last attack of the game, Murray Wallace converted from close range after a scramble inside the Everton box.
Wolverhampton Wanderers avoided becoming another top-flight casualty only by scoring in the third minute of injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw at third-tier Shrewsbury.
Matt Doherty, a wing back with a taste for attacking, popped up in the box to head in Adama Traore’s cross to keep alive Wolves’ chances of a fifth FA Cup title, and a first since 1960.
Wolves, who knocked out Liverpool in the third round, rested goalkeeper Rui Patricio and started with key players such as Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho and Jonny Castro on the bench for the game despite not being in genuine danger of relegation in its first season back in the Premier League.
With Liverpool and Arsenal — beaten by Manchester United — already eliminated, Wolves are the fifth highest-ranked team left in the competition.
NEWCASTLE FALL SHORT AGAIN
Newcastle’s woeful record in the FA Cup continued with a 2-0 home loss to fellow Premier League team Watford.
Not since 2006 has Newcastle reached the fifth round. That predates the arrival of owner Mike Ashley, who has made Premier League survival a priority for the club rather than a run in a cup competition.
Andre Gray and Isaac Success scored for Watford.
Brighton was taken to a replay by second-tier West Bromwich Albion after a 0-0 draw.
West Ham is at third-tier AFC Wimbledon later Saturday.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
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