That goal was the 104th Premier League strike scored by City this season – moving ahead of Chelsea’s previous high of 103.
By full-time, Pep Guardiola’s men had claimed another two Premier League records from the Blues, with the most wins (31) and most points (97) in a single season. All with a final game against Southampton to come.
City have swept the floor with everyone this season, meaning long-term dominance looks all-but guaranteed. But will that actually be the case?
No team has retained the title since Manchester United in 2008/09 – with each of the last nine winners all coming up short when it came to trying to hold onto their trophy the following season.
As our research shows, Premier League teams average a third-place finish the year after winning the league.
Whether it’s a difficulty for managers and players to refocus and concentrate, or if it’s a case of the rest of the league working a team out, teams average nine points fewer the season after being named champions, winning 2.95 fewer matches, and scoring 6.14 fewer goals.
While in the early days of the Premier League, the champions would at least be expected to challenge, recent seasons have seen teams really struggle to match their standards the year after lifting the trophy.
Since David Moyes guided Manchester United to 7th the year after Sir Alex Ferguson won the title in 2012/13, we’ve seen Chelsea’s 2014/15 champions finish 10th and Leicester’s 2015/16 winners end up as low as 12th.
Even Antonio Conte’s reigning champions this season have barely been in contention, with the Blues looking likely to finish way off the pace in 5th this term.
So, Guardiola’s men look set to hand over their crown next year, then?
Not if the Spaniard has his way.
Fortunately for City fans, however, his current crop look a better side than any of the six that went on to retain the title in a 38-game season.
City lead that illustrious list – five Man United outfits, and one Chelsea side, for wins, goals scored, points, and goal difference.
If any side would go on to retain the Premier League, it would be this City team – who many are calling the best PL team of all time.
Average finishing position of Premier League champions – the year before they win it
|Wins||Draws||Losses||GF||GA||GD||Points||Points Behind Winner||Position|
|Average PL winners
(season before they won it)
|Tottenham this season
(with one match to play)
But if City don’t win the league, who will?
Our research shows that after leapfrogging Liverpool to third on Wednesday, it could well be Tottenham.
Of all the average winners since the Premier League reverted to 38-games, the season before they won, teams averaged a finish of 3rd (rounded up from 2.91), with 23 wins, eight draws and seven defeats.
With one match to play, Tottenham sit in 3rd, with 22 wins, eight draws, and seven defeats.
If Spurs pick up three points on the final day at Leicester, they would match the average record of season-before-winners, and their final points tally of 77 would be narrowly behind the average of 77.82.
Having played at Wembley for this campaign, Tottenham will move into the new White Hart Lane for the next season – which fans will hope to be the springboard for their first league title since 1961.
Judging by the stats, at least, they’re well placed to do so.
Still, they’ll need to hope Man City slip up – and given recent champions’ failures to retain their title, that door may be slightly open.
There hasn’t been much of a title race this season, due to City’s dominance, and fans of the other Premier League teams will hope the current champions drop their standards next term.
We’ll know in 12 months’ time whether this record-breaking City team do buck the recent trend and retain their title, or allow the likes of Tottenham in.
Carl Recine Credit: Ritzau Scanpix