When all is said and done, it looks increasingly likely that this iteration of Manchester City will go down as the greatest team in Premier League history.
With Arsenal suffering a shock 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, ending any mathematical likelihood that the north London team would usurp Pep Guardiola’s side in the title race, Manchester City achieved their fifth title in six years – only Manchester United, from 1995/96 to 2000/01, has achieved such a feat.
This was also City’s third consecutive title, again similar to United as the only other team to win three in a row, with Alex Ferguson leading the club to a hat-trick of titles twice.
But what makes this title all the more remarkable is the fact that City have also successfully juggled reaching the FA Cup final and Champions League final. Indeed, City reached the final of Europe’s premier cup competition in style, beating Real Madrid in the semi-finals and moving ever closer to winning one of the few trophies the club has yet eluded.
With the Premier League over, City go into those two finals – against Manchester United and Inter Milan respectively – as the overwhelming favorites to win both, becoming only the second team in English football history, after United in 1998/99, to wins the title. “Threefold.”
Under Guardiola, City have now won a whopping 10 major trophies since 2016 and set numerous Premier League records over the years, including first team to reach 100 points, largest title winning margin and most wins in one go. season.
But despite all that success, no other City side have come as close to making history as this one.
There have been times this season when even opposing fans have been forced to sit back and enjoy the feast that City provided.
Even Arsenal – the second best team in the country and whose early season performances made their fans think in January that they would be celebrating Premier League victory at the end of the season – was completely demolished on April 26 at the Etihad, a 4-1 victory that almost gave City another title.
The favorite football cliché ‘men against boys’ would not even do justice to the difference in quality between the two teams that evening.
While the final table of the season may ultimately make this title triumph seem easy, it certainly wasn’t for most of the year.
Arsenal topped the league for 248 days of the season, the most in English top flight history for a team that failed to win the title, according to statistics website Opta.
As recently as April, Arsenal had an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League, but a combination of the young, inexperienced team’s inability to handle the pressure and City’s relentless brilliance meant that lead was emphatically wiped out . This is one of the reasons why this title win is so impressive.
Certainly, the inevitability of a City win every week – spearheaded by new signing Erling Haaland’s insatiable appetite for goals – eventually took its toll on an Arsenal team that will have been constantly looking over its shoulder at the chasing juggernaut.
“Arsenal pushed us to the limit, they were fantastic, so credit to them. We just put in an incredible run, they had a few hiccups, we took advantage of it and we managed to finish where we are,” said defender Kyle Walker on City’s website.
“It’s the players we have. We’re a bunch of guys who have achieved so much over the years and we understand the standards we’ve set.
What worries City’s Premier League rivals most is that Pep Guardiola and his players are showing no signs of giving in.
Even the team’s veterans don’t seem to be losing their powers any time soon; Kevin De Bruyne is only 31 and as brilliant as ever, İlkay Gündoğan – whose future is up in the air – Riyad Mahrez and Walker are only 32 and remain as crucial as ever to Guardiola’s plans.
Remarkably, despite all the talk of City’s strength, no team has fielded fewer players in the Premier League this season than City’s 23.
Then there’s Guardiola himself, who, after never spending more than four seasons at a club due to burnout, is about to finish his seventh season in charge of the Etihad. 2025 as recent as November.
Indeed, defender Rúben Dias recently called Guardiola the “chapter” of this City team.
“Of course the team is important and in the end it’s the players who play on the pitch, but he’s absolutely in charge of everything and we play the game through his eyes,” the Portugal international told ManCity.com.
“He has won everything and he wants to keep winning. That hunger starts again every season, that is his greatest quality.”
Dias also described Real Madrid’s breakdown in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday as “quite close to perfection”, and this team is certainly as perfect as any in the sport’s history.
Premier League research
For fans of opponents, however, City’s success comes with a caveat.
In February, the Premier League accused Manchester City of more than 100 breaches of the league’s financial rules and referred the club to an independent commission.
City, which was taken over by The Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, has been accused of failing to provide accurate financial information in accordance with Premier League rules from the 2009/10 season to the 2017/18 season.
According to the league handbook, City could be suspended from the league, have points deducted or be sentenced to pay an unlimited fine if found guilty.
In a February statement, City said it was “surprised by the publication of these alleged breaches” and “looks forward to the review of this matter by an independent commission”.
But according to the Times, the club is now challenging the legality of the investigation and questioning the involvement of Premier League’s leading lawyer Murray Rosen, who is a “member” of City’s title rivals, Arsenal, according to his chambers’ website . .
The Premier League told CNN it had no comment on the matter, while Rosen said he was not answering press questions. CNN Sport has contacted Manchester City.
Perhaps it’s little more than coincidence, but City have enjoyed a 23-game unbeaten run since those offenses were announced by the Premier League to go to the brink of a historic ‘Treble’.
Or maybe it was indeed a stimulating factor at the club.
But while City’s future off the pitch remains unclear – sports lawyer Nick De Marco told the BBC in February the case could take up to four years – on the pitch City are as stable as ever and in an excellent position to continue this era. to make. of dominance.
Whether fans around the world will fully appreciate the on-pitch dominance and spectacle given the alleged off-pitch financial finagling is another question.
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