Pep Guardiola’s men are already being touted for glory, with Manchester United and Chelsea looking to be too far beneath to make a decent title challenge judging by how the Sky Blues have been playing so far.
Goals have been plenty, entertainment has been sky-high, and they are looking like winners already. However, the most daunting factor is the fact that they’ve yet to taste a defeat in the league.
There is still time though, and football has a knack for being unpredictable, but all of this does beg the question as to how the current side fares against the top victors of the English crown since the dawn of the century. Let’s have a look at four of them:
1. Arsenal’s Invincibles (2003-2004)
Straight off the back, the title that many have already given to City this season is the one that Arsene Wenger’s men immortalized during their 2003-2004 season. The Gunner’s secured the Premier League by going the entire season undefeated – a phenomenal feat that shall forever remain in the history books. More importantly, it is one that hasn’t been aped in the English game since.
But the game has changed drastically in the fourteen years since Arsenal achieved this. Giant killers have become a common sight, and no single team can be underestimated, as Manchester City have found on several occasions over the years.
With a great deal of games still to go and their rivals eager to hurt in the prospect of not being able to make a definitive challenge, the prospect of going undefeated is one that seems Herculean. However, should City manage to do that, they already seem much, much better than the Gunners did back then.
At the end of the season, the London giants had 26 wins and 12 draws. At the halfway point, City have secured 18 wins and a sole draw, which speaks for itself.
Further, Arsenal’s biggest win in that season was a 5-0 thumping of Leeds United. That scoreline appears tame when set against City’s humongous 7-2 victory against Stoke back in October, as well as the 6-0 battering of Watford and the 5-0 clean sweeps of Crystal Palace, and more notably Liverpool, along with a string of other big victories. Could a new record be set?
2. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea (2004-2005)
The side that holds the Premier League record for most points in a season, with the 95 that the Blues bagged having set a precedent that despite having come close is yet to be broken.
After 19 games played, Guardiola’s lads have secured 55 points already, and with the kind of performances they are delivering, a century of points has to be in the Christmas wish list of any Manchester City fan.
Mourinho’s side has been repeatedly hailed as one of the finest to have graced the pitch, and the tactics and the abilities of the master tactician, despite stints at Madrid and a prodigal victory at Chelsea, and now a strong ambition at Manchester United, have yet to see a repeat in quite the same fashion.
Interestingly enough, their top scorer in the League that season was Frank Lampard, who managed 13 goals. In comparison, Raheem Sterling has already bagged 12 goals, joining the numbers of Aguero, while Gabriel Jesus’s 8 seem likely to go into the double figures and beyond. While the modern style has made goals all the more plentiful, these are still figures that can’t be ignored.
But the most important comparison between the two sides is in their spending. Amidst all the names on this list, the one fact that stands out is the sheer amount of cash that City have splashed in the summer window and the windows prior to having brought them into this formidable position.
Under Roman Abramovich, Chelsea of 2004 did the same and spent quite a lot by the standards of that time to bring in the likes of Drogba, Carvalho and Petr Cech. City have done a similar thing, so will the numerous records held by Chelsea that year be bettered by City in 2018?
3. Manchester United’s 2007-2008 Dream Team
But as per Wayne Rooney, who is the club’s all-time top goalscorer, there is one Red Devils’ squad that the current Manchester City team doesn’t hold a candle to, and that is the dream team of the 2007-2008 season.
Commanding a roster to be reckoned with, consisting of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and still housing legends Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Edwin van der Sar, it is easy to see why this team might take the cheese any day over Guardiola’s current squad.
The side claimed the Champions League title that year, but commanded a relatively slow start to their Premier League campaign and eventually won it it with 87 points in hand.
Despite that, this was the season that most supporters reminisce as United’s finest, and as of such, has to be the benchmark against their local rivals.
However, the current City squad has the potential to match, if not better their standings. With Sterling and Jesus still in the prime of their career, who is to say that they might not achieve what the legends who took home glory from Moscow did in 2008?
Only time will tell whether or not Rooney’s claim will be challenged and broken.
4. Leicester City’s 2015-2016 Precedent
No list of Premier League victors can be complete without the inclusion of the grandest tale in footballing history that Leicester penned, when they took home the Premier League trophy for the first time in club history after seeing a dreadful first season back into the top flight.
However, this also makes it the side that is most obviously trumped by the current Manchester City. Leicester of 2016 had taken advantage of the power vacuum that emerged from Manchester United’s downfall and Mourinho’s inability to mimic his success from the previous season.
But the one parallel is a subtle one. Claudio Ranieri was smart in his handling of the Foxes, and that led to their victory as shown in the manner in which they smartly toppled the teams apart from the top six in brilliant fashion whilst employing caution against the big ones.
While Guardiola’s tactics seem like a battering ram in comparison, there is a method to the madness of the man that led Bayern Munich and Barcelona to success in the past as well.
In another mute comparison, the Foxes had scored 68 goals in total that year, while at the halfway point, the current leaders have already found 60.
While no team might be able to win the heart of spectators like Leicester did in that memorable year, City will at least be hoping to set their mark once and for all as the kings of the modern English game.
With that, the most glaring omissions from the lists are Manchester City’s own triumphs in the 2011/12 and 2013/14 seasons respectively, which go on to say volumes about how they’ve risen from relative obscurity.
They may not have much history to boast about, but if Guardiola has his way, by the time this season comes to an end, the Sky Blues will have climbed to a perch that few others have managed to even look up to.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.