Manchester City’s 1 – 0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday extended their incredible winning run. It also marked a personal milestone for manager Pep Guardiola.
He has now taken charge of more games than any other Manchester City manager in the past 50 years. It’s unexpected, not because his position was ever really under scrutiny. But because he has never stayed at a club for more than four years.
His infamous intensity is exhausting for his players, and even more so for Pep Guardiola. He has to take a sabbatical after he leaves each job just to regroup.
Now in his fifth year in Manchester, there’s an argument to be made that this is his best City team yet.
After looking like they might need a major rebuild, City are back to their best under Pep Guardiola. They have won 18 consecutive games, and look more imperious with each one.
They have won 13 straight Premier League matches, opening up a 10 point lead at the top of the table. This, after being as low as 9th at one point this season.
If, as seems inevitable now, City win the league it will be the second time Guardiola has come back from the brink in England. His first season in which City finished 3rd and won no trophies was seen as proof that his style couldn’t succeed in England. He proved that wrong in a big way, with the record-breaking, all-conquering consecutive titles that followed in 2018 and 2019.
Their early struggles this season appeared to be the result of an inevitable decline. You can’t be that good without falling away. There was talk of a dramatic rebuild and speculation over whether Guardiola could find solutions with the squad he had.
He did find solutions, vastly different ones to what we’re used to seeing from him. He found a way to get his team back to the top with something English football fans love: a miserly defense.
Behind it all is new signing Ruben Dias. Since his arrival, City have only conceded 9 league goals in 23 games. The 1-0 win over Arsenal was their 24th clean sheet of the season and in their current 18-game winning run, they’ve conceded just six.
With Liverpool’s implosion, the new, impregnable City are looking at another title procession.