In our series on the Premier League winners of the 21st century, we have covered improbable winners such as the 2015/16 Leicester City side, as well as the dominant teams of yesteryear, such as the Manchester United side who won back-to-back-to-back league titles between 2007 and 2009.
After a season in which Antonio Conte’s Chelsea had won the league at a canter, Pep Guardiola reinforced a defence that had endured a period halfway through the previous season where they’d lost four games in just six weeks either side of Christmas. While the preceding season had been difficult, City losing five away games, an unbeaten run at the end of the season hinted at the dominance to come in 2017/18. All in all, Guardiola spent an incredible £255 million on six first-team players.
Kyle Walker arrived for £45m from Tottenham Hotspur, and Benjamin Mendy cost even more, setting The Citizens back £49.3m as he made his way to Manchester from Monaco. Aymeric Laporte arrived from Atletico Madrid for £57m, while Ederson came from Benfica for £34.9m. Danilo made his way from Real Madrid for £26.5m and Bernardo Silva swapped Monaco for The Etihad to the tune of £43 million. It was a massive summer spending spree.
Just four games into the season, Manchester City hosted Liverpool is what would be an important game for The Citizens. Sadio Mane’s senseless red card led to a five-goal rout for the home side:
City were on a roll, and it had only just started. Having beaten Bournemouth in the previous game thanks to a 97th-minute winner from Raheem Sterling, the win over Liverpool gave the Mancunian side an irresistible momentum. From the 26th August until 27th December, Manchester City won every single Premier League game. It was a new record in the top flight; 18 games, 18 wins, including hard-fought victories such as the 2-1 win at Old Trafford that owed more to digging in than free-flowing football and swashbuckling thrashings such as the 7-2 demolition of Stoke City.
At the mid-point of the season, however, the champions elect suffered a wobble. Away at Anfield, City finally came unstuck as a 10-minute period in the second half that was littered with defensive errors finally gave them too steep a mountain to climb.
Despite the setback, City were far too good for most opposition in the League. They swiped Leicester aside in a 5-1 win at the Etihad that banished all memories of the 3-1 humbling Leicester had inflicted on their foes two years earlier. A dominant 3-0 demolition of Arsenal at The Emirates came in the next game. A vengeful win at Goodison ended March with city miles clear of their nearest rivals, who were ironically Manchester United.
City had the opportunity to win the title at home in the Manchester derby on April 7th. After two early goals, City were flying and 2-0 at the half-time break was being kind to the Red Devils. It’s fair to say that it was a game of two halves.
While the defeat to their more illustrious historic rivals United delayed the party, there was to be no collapse. United lost at home to West Bromwich Albion and the title belonged to City.
Going into the final game, City only needed to beat lowly Southampton to claim 100 Premier League points. Deep into stoppage time, it was scoreless, but a moment of magic from Gabriel Jesus created Premier League history and a ton-up feat that will likely never be repeated.
In a truly magical season, Manchester City broke more records than any Premier League team had done before. They won more points, more away games and more consecutive games than anyone else in modern domestic football history. With 16 away wins, they set a new benchmark for teams playing away from home against the best of the best. They scored the most goals (106), had the best goal difference (+79) and equaled Manchester United’s modern-day record for winning the title with five games to spare.
Winning the league by 19 points, Manchester City set the limit for how dominant a league side could be in the English Premier League. With no real rivals, they weren’t run close, and while they fell short in the F.A. Cup and Champions League of that 2017/18 season, they were leagues ahead of the competition week after week at home and away.
The following season would be very different, with a new rival pushing them as close as they had been since their ‘Agueroooo’ moment and a forgotten age. Pep Guardiola and his Citizens side would be tested like never before. But that is a different season and another story for a different day.
For now, why not revel in every single goal of the 106 Manchester City scored in the 2017/18 Premier League season. From the first finish to the last lob, it’s an amazing collection of attacking football.