The win was also their fifth straight and added to their insurmountable 16 point lead over city rivals Manchester United. With just seven matches left, Manchester City will likely clinch the title before the last weekend.
Manchester City has dominated the Premier League, outscoring their opponents 88-21. The team is extremely well-rounded, sporting neither of the top two scorers in the league. Sergio Aguero leads the charge with 21 goals, but he has missed nine PL matches. Raheem Sterling is not far behind at 16. In Champions League matches, this statistic is even closer as Sterling and Aguero have both scored just four times while Gabriel Jesus and defender John Stones each have three goals.
The heart of the team is Kevin de Bruyne, who has 19 assists in Premier League and Champions League combined. The Belgian signing joined the club in 2015 and is the orchestrator and #10 of Pep Guardiola’s modified tiki-taka system. He may only have eight goals this season, but it would be a travesty if he did not receive the Premier League player of the year award.
The tiki-taka system, which is based on possession and short passes to wear down the opponent, emphasizes defense and midfielders over forwards and strikers. So no summary of Manchester City’s season would be complete without highlighting the improvement of Leroy Sane.
Sane joined the club last season at the age of just 21. He suffered a couple injuries and played just 26 games, but still managed five goals and made the shortlist for FIFA young player of the year. The German player, however, claimed that nasal congestion limited his production. Sane received surgery in the offseason and it seems to have worked. He is one goal away from doubling his total in 2016-17 and has a whopping 13 assists this season.
Going into 2017-18, Man City knew they could rely on de Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero, and David Silva in attack. But to add young players Sané and Gabriel Jesus to that formula made them unstoppable. City now boasts the top midfield in the league and it´s not close. What´s more, these guys will probably remain in light blue for many years to come.
Manchester City is on pace for 103 points and the second favorite for the Champions League title. They sit just behind Barcelona according to Vegas, but that is likely due to the Blaugrana´s pedigree and their easier quarterfinal tie against Roma.
As the Champions League races to its last eight, Manchester City must face Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Tottenham. This ten-day stretch will decide whether City can cement their place in history.
Even if they lose all four matches, the light blues will probably break 2004-05 Chelsea´s record for most points (95), and 2016-17 Chelsea´s record for most wins (38). Nevertheless, the money and talent are constantly moving towards the top of the Premier League. Manchester City will, of course, want to maximize their record and secure all 21 points remaining on their schedule.
Most importantly, this is Manchester City’s best shot to win the Champions League. The light blues have never advanced beyond the semifinals at this competition. But as the most dominant team, with more domestic wins than any of the final eight, City should be the favorite.
However, their quarterfinal opponent is Liverpool, the only team they lost to all season in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp is the only manager with a winning record against Pep Guardiola at 6-5-1. Manchester City dominated a Liverpool club that played with 10 men from the 37th minute in a 5-0 victory on September 17th. But Liverpool scored a 4-3 win at Anfield on January 18th.
On aggregate score that’s an 8-4 victory for Man City, meaning Liverpool will have to step up their game starting this Wednesday. But the Reds have won their last two matches, including a four goal and one assist match for Mohamed Salah.
And if Manchester City defeats Liverpool, they will likely face two of Bayern, Real Madrid or Barcelona before they can hoist the trophy. Nevertheless, this team is best positioned to win a 2017-18 double.
Photo Credit: By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons