Man City prevailed in one of the most gripping title races in Premier League history as they finished one point clear of Liverpool this season. It required a truly heroic effort from Pep Guardiola and his troops as they battled to see off the threat of an irrepressible Reds team. They ended the campaign by rattling off 14 consecutive wins and displaying nerves of utter steel. Key moments defined the title charge, from John Stones’ last-gasp clearance off the line against Liverpool to Vincent Kompany’s wonder-strike against Leicester, but ultimately it was a phenomenal team effort that made Man City the first team in a decade to successfully defend the Premier League title. These are the key metrics in which they finished top of the pile in 2018/19:
Premier League Wins - 32
Liverpool lost just one game all season and that came at the hands of Man City on January 3. Sergio Aguero put Guardiola’s men 1-0 up before half-time in a pulsating encounter, only for Roberto Firmino to equalise after the break. A draw would have seen the Reds leave with their seven-point lead intact, but Leroy Sane raced clear and fired in a superb winner with 18 minutes left on the clock. By contrast, Man City lost four times: a surprise 2-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge, back-to-back defeats at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester either side of Christmas and a 2-1 loss against Newcastle in January.
Yet the big difference between Man City and Liverpool was ultimately City’s remarkable ability to capitalise on their dominance. Liverpool ended up drawing seven games in 2018/19, whereas City only drew twice: away at Molineux and at Anfield. They won 32 games, compared to Liverpool’s 30 victories, and that handed them the narrowest of titles triumphs.
It equalled the record that this team set in 2017/18, when they ended up with 100 points on the back of 32 wins, four draws and just two defeats. It means that this Man City now boasts the two highest-ever points tallies record in the Premier League. Liverpool are third, thanks to their efforts this season, but Man City were ultimately just two good for them. Winning 14 games in a row at such a crunch time of the season is unprecedented. The defeat to Newcastle on January 29 proved to be a real wakeup call and they never stopped winning after that, while they also became the first team to earn a domestic treble when they annihilated Watford in the FA Cup final.
Premier League Goals Scored - 95
Man City banged in an impressive 95 goals this season, six more than Liverpool and 30 more than Man Utd. They conceded five more than the Reds, but their prowess in front of goal inspired them to a second successive title triumph. Aguero led the charge with 21, and he hit three hat-tricks along the way. A treble against Chelsea in February meant he became the top league goalscorer in the club’s history, while he has now gone past the 20-goal mark in six different Premier League seasons.
Raheem Sterling continues to go from strength to strength under Guardiola’s expert tutelage and he was rewarded for his magnificent exploits by receiving the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award. He scored 17 league goals and laid on 10 assists in a remarkably productive campaign. The England winger played with pace, purpose, dynamism and unpredictability throughout the season and he really set the tone for this title victory. Sane was the only other player to hit double figures in the league this season, and the squad did really well to share around the goals.
Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva all managed seven, Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva each chipped in with six and Aymeric Laporte scored three. Kevin De Bruyne only scored twice in an injury-plagued campaign and it is impressive that Man City managed to score so many goals when deprived of arguably their best player for the bulk of the campaign. Bernardo Silva really stepped up to the plate as a creative force, and it all bodes extremely well for the future. Man City are now the favourites to win the title for the third season in a row in 2019/20, and the top blog posts rate their chances highly due to their strength in depth.
Premier League Passes – 26,581
Man City play a mesmeric brand of football under Guardiola and few opponents can contain them for long. Ederson sets the tone as they play out from the back, and everyone is supremely comfortable on the ball. Even if they make the odd mistake, they are steadfast in their determination to pass their way out of trouble, and the results speak for themselves. Man City often totally dominate possession and their opponents are left chasing shadows for large portions of the game. When they tire, the likes of David Silva, Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne pick them off and the forwards are on hand to fire City to victory.
In 2018/19, they led the league by completing 26,581 passes. Chelsea came the closest to matching that, as they managed 25,070, but City used the ball much better. The likes of Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic passed from side to side, whereas City were incisive. It meant they had more shots than any other team, created more chances and scored more goals. They were also remarkably patient on the home straight as teams defended for their lives against them. They kept passing it around and eventually they were rewarded in each game.
Goals from Outside the Box in the Premier League - 15
Yet sometimes all the intricate passing in the world cannot unlock an extremely stubborn defence and occasionally you just need to let fly from distance. That was the case in the game against Leicester, as the Foxes were fired up under new manager Brendan Rodgers and they were determined to earn a result against the best team in the land. They defended as if their lives depended on it, and City were frustrated for the vast majority of the contest. Yet cometh the hour, cometh the man.
“Don’t shoot, Vinnie, don’t shoot!” yelled his teammates as Kompany carried the ball out of defence and opened up his body. “No shoot, Vinnie, no shoot!” screamed Guardiola from the sidelines. The Belgian promptly ignored them and unleashed a spectacular strike that soared past the outstretched glove of Kasper Schmeichel and nestled into the net, sparking scenes of pandemonium across The Etihad. It maintained their winning streak and propelled them to the title.
“Today was a little bit of frustration, because everyone was saying, ‘don’t shoot’, and it was really annoying,” said Kompany after the game. “I’ve not come this far for young players to tell me whether I can take a shot or not.” They were all extremely pleased that he ignored their advice, as it was a title defining moment.
In total, Man City scored 15 goals from outside the box, more than any other team. It is a crucial part of their attacking strength and it makes them unpredictable for defenders to face. Yet the Leicester plays could have been forgiven for thinking Kompany did not offer much of a threat from range. He had not previously hit the target from outside the box since 2013, but Man City fans will all agree that it was worth the wait.