MANCHESTER: Manchester City face Burnley on Sunday at the start of a four-match spell that could see Pep Guardiola write a remarkable new chapter in English football history.
Guardiola’s side follow the crucial Premier League fixture at Turf Moor with games against Leicester and Brighton, as City seek to hold off Liverpool in a thrilling title race.
City are two points behind Liverpool after the leaders regained top spot with their 5-0 win over Huddersfield on Friday.
But the champions, who also have an FA Cup final date with Watford on May 18, will be guaranteed to retain the title if they win their last three matches.
That means a City team that has won 26 of their last 28 games, a run dating back to the end of last year, now stands just four victories away from becoming the first side in the history of English football to win all three domestic trophies in the same season.
t is a feat Guardiola has already achieved in his career — with Barcelona 10 years ago.
But the City manager was not keen to draw comparisons ahead of a potentially difficult visit to a Burnley team that drew with Chelsea on Monday.
“We are out of the Champions League and at Barcelona we were in,” said Guardiola when asked to compare the two campaigns.
“Now we are not thinking too much the FA Cup Final against Watford. I’m concerned with Burnley, Leicester, Brighton.
“Just focus on that. We will analyse at the end of the season how many titles. It’s not going to change my opinion of what we’ve done this season… how many titles we win.
“All respect for my players and of course what Liverpool have done.”
Guardiola himself has won the even more prestigious treble of domestic league and cup combined with the Champions League.
The Catalan pulled off that feat with Barcelona in 2008-09.
Manchester United pulled off the most famous treble in English football history a decade earlier when current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the dramatic goal that won the club the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich.
But that season, Alex Ferguson’s side were denied a domestic treble — and an unprecedented quadruple — by losing to Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
In the context of British football, domestic trebles are relatively common — with Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic having recorded seven and six, respectively, in the Scottish game.
The absence of a third domestic competition in Germany, Spain and Italy means that the only other top-tier European nations that have produced domestic treble winners are Portugal — with Benfica in 2014 — and France, where Paris Saint Germain have won three this decade.
City will be without the injured Kevin De Bruyne at Turf Moor but, more worryingly, may also have to contend without physical midfielder Fernandinho after the Brazilian injured his knee in the midweek win at United.
But, after setting a new record for a top-flight club by taking their tally of goals in all competitions to 157 in the 2-0 Old Trafford win, Guardiola is at least optimistic about his team’s ability to keep their blistering form going at Turf Moor.
“It makes me proud, I love to score a lot of goals to respect this game, to show how we want to attack and do it in every game,” he said.
“We have 157 goals but we don’t have one guy who scored 60, everyone was involved, Sergio (Aguero) and Gabriel (Jesus), they scored a lot, the wingers, attacking midfielders, we cannot score a lot from set pieces because we are a small team.
“That’s why — I’m very pleased that the top two are both Man City — Manuel’s (Pellegrini) team is the second one. Both are there and it means the club is focused on playing an attractive game and I like that.”