Manchester City’s march to the Premier League title has seemed more like a formality in recent months, as its points tally grew and the gap to the other teams widened.
Saturday’s win over Tottenham Hotspur took City to 87 points and it was handed the title a day later, when local rivals Manchester United suffered a shock defeat at home to bottom club West Bromich Albion.
It confirmed a second trophy at Manchester City for manager Pep Guardiola to go with the English League Cup, secured in February. Guardiola no doubt would have been pleased with Sunday’s news, despite promising not to watch any soccer and enjoy a round of golf with his son instead.
With five games still to go, City has a chance to break through the 100-point barrier for the first time in Premier League history and to surpass the current record of 95 set by Chelsea 13 years ago. Should they make it to triple digits, they’d also in all likelihood take the league goal-scoring record of 103 from Chelsea as well.
Last year, in his first season in charge, Guardiola finished 15 points behind champions Chelsea, but heavily invested in the squad over the last year to turn that deficit around.
The club has spent nearly $400 million on players such as Kyle Walker from Tottenham, Benjamin Mendy and Berardo Silva from AS Monaco and, perhaps most notably, Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson Santana de Moraes from Benfica. Now, Manchester City has the widest-ever Premier League-winning margin of 18 points in its sights, a record set by Manchester United in 1999/2000.
A year ago, there were no Manchester City players in the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) team of the year, but this time around the team has three players all on the shortlist for the main player of the year award. Kevin de Bruyne (15 assists), Leroy Sane (12) and David Silva (11) are the top three assist-makers in the league and have added 24 goals between them as well.
For the record, none of that trio happens to be Sergio Aguero, who has again passed 20 league goals for the fourth season in a row and become the club’s all-time top scorer. No place either on the individual award shortlist for Raheem Sterling, who took his own tally to 17 with a goal at the weekend, to go alongside eight assists.
Captain Vincent Kompany will lift the Premier League trophy for a third time in seven years, with only Chelsea’s John Terry (five titles) and Roy Keane at Manchester Utd (four) skippering their sides to more titles.
City’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on April 7, which delayed its title party, brought to an end a 28-game unbeaten home league run stretching back to December 2016 and remains one of only two league losses this season. Guardiola’s men have appeared unstoppable at times, underlined by a period of 18 consecutive league wins, which is also now a top-flight record in England.
Conquering Europe may still be a huge objective for the club’s owners and Guardiola, who has failed to make it past the semi-finals of the Champions League since 2011. But, for now, domestically his side stands apart.
The debate will rumble on whether this Manchester City side, who’ve maintained the highest standards throughout the season, are better than Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of 2003/04 or Manchester Utd’s treble-winning side of 1998/99, but the numbers don’t lie and you get the impression Guardiola’s not done yet.