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Pep Guardiola and Man City have found a different way to earn time off

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On January 23 last year as Pep Guardiola sat down with the media at Bristol City, he seemed less than delighted about making his first final in charge of Manchester City.

By demolishing Burton 9-0, Guardiola can take a host of youngsters for the second leg to allow for stronger teams in the games either side; the aim will be similar (even if the scoreline won't be anywhere near as emphatic) for the Champions League last-16 tie with Schalke, with a potential FA Cup quarter-final coming immediately after the second leg.

Leicester and Chelsea have shown in recent years the benefit of a stronger focus on the Premier League.

If it is impossible to know how much it did take out of them the feeling of lifting the trophy at Wembley helped the team kick on in the Premier League and helped sell the competition to Guardiola.

Out of the league cup and FA Cup and with a tricky Champions League tie against Bayern Munich to come, Liverpool have far fewer obstacles in their route to the title.

They may not seem like much, but those brief moments of rest could be just enough for City to keep themselves charged enough to challenge on every front.

On the other, a very good team that already has a four-point lead at the top of the league has a far lighter schedule for the second half of the season than the Blues do.
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