The 2023-24 Premier League Season is only five games old, but Manchester City is already the talk of the town. Pep Guardiaola’s Citizens have won all five of their opening fixtures and enjoy a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. The best sportsbook online already has Manchester City as the overwhelming favorite to become champions of England for the fourth consecutive year and the eighth time in 13 seasons, but could the boys in sky blue become only the third team in English football history to go the entire campaign unbeaten?
Manchester City almost went unbeaten during the 2017-18 season. By January 2, City had won 20 and drawn two of their first 22 games before a 4-3 loss at Liverpool prevented them from becoming invincible. Guardiola’s men also lost 3-2 at home to arch-rivals Manchester United towards the back end of the season. City ended with a record of 32 victories, four draws, and two defeats, resulting in a Premier League record 100-point tally.
It is no secret that City often embarks on a slow start to a season before picking up the pace and becoming relentless. The boys from the Etihad Stadium have bucked that trend this year, claiming all three points from their opening five fixtures, scoring 14 goals and conceding three. Some may say City’s victories have come from teams they were expected to beat, and it is difficult to argue with that statement; Burnley, Newcastle, Sheffield United, Fulham, and West Ham United are teams City should brush aside, and they have done emphatically.
It is difficult to see which fixtures this Manchester City team will struggle against this season. Arsenal will be a stern test on October 8, as will Liverpool on November 25. These are the only games before the turn of the year that one would expect to put up a significant fight against this current City side.
There was much talk about the players who left Manchester City over the summer and how those departures weakened Guaridola’s squad. Any team other than City would have struggled to adapt to life without Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, and youngster Cole Palmer. Then there is the injury to the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne, yet City still look as strong as they ever have, if not stronger.
Josko Gvardiol is a stellar signing, while Jeremy Doku appears to have hit the ground running. Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes add more steel to an already incredible midfield.
Bizarrely, some of City’s rival fans wondered if opposition defenses would figure out how to stop Erling Haaland, who banged in 36 goals in 35 Premier League games last season. That has not happened, with the 23-year-old man mountain scoring seven in his first five appearances. City looks unstoppable at this stage of the season; can you imagine what they will be like once they get out of second gear?
One only needs to look at City’s squad to see why they are the most-feared team in world football. Apart from the strikers, of which City has only two, the squad is blessed with at least two world-class players in each position. Guardiola is not only a master tactician but also someone who knows how to rotate his team to keep them fit and happy with first-team opportunities.
Only two teams in the history of English professional football have finished an entire season without tasting defeat. Preston North End was the first in 1888-89, although the league only saw 22 games back then. Preston North End also won the FA Cup, earning them the nickname The Invincibles.
Arsenal went unbeaten during the 2003-04 campaign, with that elite squad also referred to as The Invincibles. Arsenal remains the only team to have remained unbeaten during a 38-game season. Under the guidance of legendary manager Arsene Wenger, Arsenal won the Premier League by an 11-point margin courtesy of 26 wins and 12 draws. By comparison, Chelsea, who finished second to their London rivals, lost seven games.
Although The Gunners finished unbeaten in the Premier League, they fared worse in the cup competitions. Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they lost 1-0 to Manchester United, and the semi-finals of the Football League Cup, losing 3-1 on aggregate to Middlesbrough.
Arsenal also lost twice during the UEFA Champions League group stages and then crashed out in the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate to Chelsea.
City is competing in five competitions this season: the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, and the FIFA Club World Cup. Having won a continental treble last season, City are favorites to win every competition again this time around.
Guardiola’s men were handed one of the easiest groups in Champions League history, at least on paper. RB Leipzig, Red Star Belgrade, and Young Boys of Switzerland will not be able to lay a glove on the reigning champions, so passage to the knockout stages is all but guaranteed.
While it is true that City have not faced any opponents of note in the opening weeks of the current season, they have won all of their fixtures at a relative canter. In addition, they have won those games despite being unable to call upon the services of Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, and John Stones, a trio of stars that would be in the starting XI of any team in the Premier League.
City has been ridiculously strong, effective, and efficient with a depleted squad, so the writing looks to be on the wall for opposing teams when Guardiola has a fully fit roster to choose from. Can Manchester City remain unbeaten throughout the Premier League season and match the impressive feat Arsenal achieved 20 years ago? It would take a brave person to bet against it happening. Perhaps the real question should be, can Manchester City win an unprecedented quadruple? But that is a subject for another day.
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