Two defeats in 41 games, a run of 18 league wins in a row, that was the record for Manchester City this season, until they went to Wigan last Monday night, and a Will Grigg goal ensured the League One club would beat City in the FA Cup for the third time in as many meetings.
Then again, that result only meant it’s three defeats in 42, and City are still the best team in the country, if not the continent, and have a League Cup final meeting with Arsenal at Wembley this weekend to look forward to. All is still well in Blue Mancunia. But following that loss at the DW stadium, a game littered with a red card to Fabian Delph, a lecture between managers Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook, and a post-match field invasion and fracas, does the game against Arsenal have a lot more riding on it?
That seems a bit daft in truth, after all, on one hand it’s a cup final and that’s bound to have a lot riding on it, on the other it hardly changes the fact that City have been in outrageous form this campaign, and are bound to end it with at least the Premier League title. But what happens if they lose the final, what happens if they fail against Arsenal at Wembley for the second season running? Do Pep and his side suddenly start feeling more pressure after what would be two defeats in a row? Do teams start to look at them with less fear and a little more sense of adventure?
Therein lies the potential problem for City, the problem that Wigan might well have brought forward. Not many things are as deflating as losing a cup final, as Arsenal know too well themselves – their League Cup loss to Birmingham in 2011 derailed their entire campaign and proved the catalyst for them to fall in the title race. Two defeats in a row and people that start asking more questions. Two defeats in a row and the media starts getting on their backs, a cup final defeat and the fact is thrown to Pep’s face, that for all their grandeur of football, they still haven’t quite won anything under the Spaniard.
Maybe this is all a little dramatic, maybe any potential loss will be seen as nothing more than it would seem, a defeat. Maybe City would even steamroller their way to a win, which is by no means unlikely, but against a side developing a habit of firing themselves up for make-or-mar games, City have more than a banana skin potentially lying in wait.