Man City have given themselves protection for Club World Cup ambition – Simon Bajkowski

A combination of slower starts and going deep in knockout competitions has meant that the majority of their five Premier Leagues under Pep Guardiola have needed a comeback. Last season, Arsenal led the way for almost the entire campaign until being swept aside in April.

There is the potential for that again this time given one of City&aposs rewards for winning the Champions League is participation in the Club World Cup. While the Premier League continues in December, the Blues will spend a week in Saudi Arabia playing what they hope is a final as well as a semi-final before heading straight back to domestic action.

Given the ridiculous scheduling around the Super Cup – another opportunity given to the Champions League winners – that saw them only finish in the early hours of Thursday morning in Athens and then playing Newcastle in Manchester on Saturday, City cannot expect any favours for the Club World Cup. The broadcasters and the league will make their choices based on what they want, not what suits the champions best.

However, the fixture list – and City&aposs bright start – has already reduced the logjam facing the club when they return. There is a home match against Brentford that will have to be rearranged and more runs in the cup competitions may require more postponements, yet the schedule is much gentler than last season.

Cramming a World Cup in at the end of 2022 meant that almost half of the Premier League season had been completed by the middle of November, whereas this year it is much more pedestrian. City play four more games over the next three weeks before the October international break, then another four before the November break.

By the time they head off to Jeddah in the middle of December, they will have played another five and there is then a winter break planned in January after the Christmas fixtures. While most of City&aposs players will still be needed for international duty in those breaks, it does help to contain any momentum moving away from them in the Premier League.