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City bid to keep quadruple alive
Manchester City face second tier Watford in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday with an unprecedented 'quadruple' of trophies still in their sights.
No team in English football history has won the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and European Champions League in the same season, although Manchester United came close in 1999 with a 'treble' that excluded the League Cup.
But City, who this week clinched a place in the League Cup final with a 9-0 aggregate thumping of top-flight rivals West Ham, are just a point behind Premier League leaders Arsenal and through to the last 16 of the Champions League, albeit they face Spanish giants Barcelona in the knockout stages.
They've already scored more than 100 goals in all competitions this season but if they have frequently produced stunning displays on the field, another hallmark of the current campaign has been the calming influence of manager Manuel Pellegrini off it.
Whereas the Chilean's predecessor, Roberto Mancini, seemed to relish the spotlight and was frequently involved in controversy, Pellegrini has been more than happy for his players to hog the headlines.
But while understandably pleased with the season thus far, Pellegrini is determined no one at City, who lost last term's FA Cup final to Wigan, will get carried away by the club's scintillating form.
"I'm very proud of the team that we are still in four competitions," he said.
"We are not thinking about that (winning all four competitions). We are thinking just to win every match.
"Now we've finished with the Capital One (League) Cup until March. It's very important to continue in the FA Cup, so we must win against Watford on Saturday.
"We'll continue with the same winning and ambitious mentality.
"We have a lot of work to do. In the FA Cup we are just in the fourth round.
"In the Champions League we have a tough game against Barcelona.
"The Premier League's very close and it will still be close till the end between four or five teams.
"At the moment we are happy (with) the way we are doing things. We must continue in the future the same way."
Watford manager Beppe Sannino may be Italian but he knows all about the 'magic of the Cup' that is associated with English football's premier knockout tournament.
"Here you have the FA Cup; in Italy we have the Coppa Italia," he said. "The difference is that in Italy, from the start you know how it will end. The best eight teams go straight into the last 16, and the strongest side always plays at home.
"In Italy it (an upset) could never happen. It's just impossible. The spirit of English football is all there, in the FA Cup. It is very difficult for the small clubs to win, but they always have a chance."
FA Cup holders Wigan, themselves now in the second tier after relegation last season, are at home to top-flight strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Third division Stevenage will look to cause a shock when Everton travel south on Saturday, when renowned giant-killers Yeovil bid to add to their illustrious Cup history at Southampton.
Sunderland, fresh from their against the odds League Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United in midweek, will find roles reversed when non-league Kidderminster arrive at the Stadium of Light.
"It's important we go and do ourselves justice," said Kidderminster manager Andy Thorn.
"You don't want to go and come off the pitch wishing you had done this or done that, or leave anything out there."
Fixtures (1500GMT unless stated)
Friday: Arsenal v Coventry (1945GMT), Nottingham Forest v Preston (2000GMT)
Saturday: Birmingham v Swansea, Manchester City v Watford, Bolton v Cardiff, Bournemouth v Liverpool, Huddersfield v Charlton, Port Vale v Brighton, Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton v Yeovil, Stevenage v Everton (1730GMT), Sunderland v Kidderminster, Wigan v Crystal Palace.
Sunday: Chelsea v Stoke, Sheffield United v Fulham (1300GMT)
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