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Are Manchester City the greatest Premier League team of all time?

Sports Mole analyses whether the current Manchester City side are the best team the Premier League has ever seen.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City look set to run away with the Premier League in scintillating fashion, after a record-breaking start to the season of 62 points from 22 games.

This has prompted many pundits and commentators to ask the question: Are Guardiola's Man City the best team the Premier League has ever seen? Alan Shearer, for instance, claimed there is "no doubt" that Man City are "one of the best teams ever".

To answer this question, we must compare Man City's record at this point to other great Premier League teams throughout the competition's 26 enthralling years, but we must also answer those questions that cannot be answered with statistics: Are they the best team in the Premier League era to watch? Have they established dominance over mighty opponents? Is it simply too early to decide?

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at the Premier League match against West Ham United on December 3, 2017© SilverHub



What the stats say

The statistics are very much on Man City's side. Their form up until this point of the season is unparalleled in so many respects.

The headline statistic is clear; their 62 points from 22 games is a record, though it only trumps Chelsea's start to the 2005-06 season by one point.

As one delves further through the statistics, the unique nature of Man City's first 22 games becomes clear. City's goal difference of plus 51 is the best ever at this stage, a full nine clear of Chelsea's tally from last season. This figure includes 64 goals scored, also a record, and their defensive record of just 13 goals conceded has only been beaten three times in Premier League history.



Comparing Guardiola's City to the other Premier League giants

Pep Guardiola distractedly hugs Arsene Wenger after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City on April 2, 2017© SilverHub

Since 1992 there have been some special Premier League sides. So many of Sir Alex Ferguson's all-conquering Manchester United outfits, Jose Mourinho's three victorious Chelsea sides, and of course Wenger's history-making 'Invincibles'.

At this stage in the season, Arsenal's class of 2003-04 had 55 points en route to their unbeaten campaign, with a goal difference of plus 29, having scored 44 goals and conceded 15. This is an unremarkable start when compared to other Premier League title winners, but the 'Invincibles' were not defined by goals and points statistics, instead they were defined by their unique style.

Wenger combined the flair of what we now know as tiki-taka with athleticism and steely determination. The Gunners had a seemingly unblemished side from front to back, with star players including Thierry Henry and captain Patrick Vieira. However, most importantly they are the only team to have gone through the 38-game Premier League season undefeated.

In terms of style, it is hard to see how the relentless, masterful attacking football of Pep Guardiola's Man City can have any equal in Premier League history. However, Wenger's 'Invincibles' achieved a unique feat in combining incisive attacking play with defensive grit to defeat a truly special Manchester United side, which included the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ryan Giggs and had won eight of the first 10 Premier League titles.

Manchester City do not have such a fearsome rival this season, but if Manchester City do manage to go undefeated in an era where the Premier League is so strong from top to bottom, they could eclipse the achievements of Arsenal's 'Invincibles'.

Aside from the 'Invincibles', it is Jose Mourinho's Chelsea title winners and Alex Ferguson's many victorious Man United sides that live longest in the memory.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola shake hands before the derby at Old Trafford on September 10, 2016© SilverHub

In the 2004-05 season, Mourinho's Chelsea set records galore; they annihilated the Premier League points record - achieving 95 points in total - and conceded just 15 goals, both of which remain Premier League records.

The machine-like efficiency which defined that great Chelsea side is admired by many, yet the manner in which Guardiola's City side dominate every single game is surely something more special. That being said, Man City must surpass Chelsea's points records to defeat their claim to being the best Premier League team of all time.

Finally, we must compare the current City side with the many dominant Manchester United sides produced by Alex Ferguson. Winning the Premier League a record 13 times, Ferguson is undoubtedly the greatest manager the Premier League has ever seen, yet this Man City side could eclipse every one of Ferguson title-winning sides.

Manchester United have had seasons of incredible domination, winning the title by 18 points in 1999-2000, and of course periods of incredible consistency, winning eight of the first 10 Premier League titles and five out of seven in another glorious spell from 2006-07 to 2012-13.

In Ferguson's 20 Premier League seasons, United had some memorable teams, from the treble-winners in 1999 to the mid-noughties sides of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but it is their unrivalled ability to churn out titles over several years that Manchester City must match to defeat any number of Alex Ferguson's Manchester United sides to the crown of best Premier League team of all time.



Still work to do

Despite the litany of magnificent teams that lay claim to the crown of the greatest Premier League side of all time, this Manchester City team is well on course to eclipse them all and take the crown.

City combine the technical prowess of Guardiola's incredible Barcelona side with the pace and power of Ferguson's greatest Man United teams, and that is a stunning combination.

Of course they cannot take the crown unless they maintain their current standard for the rest of this season at least, but if they can beat Chelsea's points record and become the second Premier League 'Invincibles', it is difficult to see who could dispute this Manchester City side's status as the greatest Premier League team of all time.

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Are Man City the best Premier League team of all time?

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Mesut Ozil in action during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Huddersfield Town on November 29, 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City97202632323
2Liverpool97201631323
3Chelsea96302071321
4Arsenal970222111121
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs9702167921
6Bournemouth95221612417
7Watford95131312116
8Everton94321512315
9Wolverhampton WanderersWolves943298115
10Manchester UnitedMan Utd94231516-114
11Leicester CityLeicester94051515012
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton93241013-311
13Burnley92251017-78
14West Ham UnitedWest Ham9216814-67
15Crystal Palace9216511-67
16Southampton9135614-86
17Cardiff CityCardiff9126819-115
18Fulham91261125-145
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield9036418-143
20Newcastle UnitedNewcastle9027614-82

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