City eye record books

Pep’s side need only three more wins to top Chelsea’s record of 30 Premier League wins

Afro Voice (KwaZulu Natal) - - Sport -

CHAMPIONS Manch­ester City have set their sights on rewrit­ing the record books af­ter clinch­ing the Premier League ti­tle.

Pep Guardi­ola’s side were crowned kings of English foot­ball on Sun­day as their archri­vals Manch­ester United slumped to a shock 1-0 de­feat against strug­gling West Bromwich Al­bion.

City are 16 points clear of sec­ond-placed United, who can only take a max­i­mum of 15 points from their re­main­ing matches.

Given the way they have de­mol­ished all chal­lengers in the league, it was ap­par­ent months ago that it was only a mat­ter of when rather than if City would take the ti­tle.

But seal­ing the sil­ver­ware, thanks to a slip from old en­e­mies United and their boss Jose Mour­inho – a long-time ri­val of Guardi­ola – was a sweet mo­ment, es­pe­cially af­ter they lost to their neigh­bours in the Manch­ester derby last week­end.

Win­ning the ti­tle with five matches to go makes City the joint ear­li­est champions in the Premier League era – match­ing the achieve­ment of the 2000-01 Manch­ester United. side.

That is just one of a wel­ter of sta­tis­ti­cal feats that have led some to rank City among the Premier League’s great­est ever teams.

Whether they de­serve to be men­tioned in the same breath as Manch­ester United’s 1999 treble win­ners or the 2004 Arse­nal “In­vin­ci­bles” is up for de­bate.

But City, who will stage a ti­tle party when they host Swansea on Sun­day, have a chance to un­der­line their cre­den­tials over their last five matches.

Fu­elled by the ma­jes­tic form of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Ser­gio Aguero and Ra­heem Ster­ling, City set a new Premier League record ear­lier this sea­son by win­ning 18 suc­ces­sive matches.

The Premier League’s record points tally of 95, set by Chelsea in 2004-05, is within City’s reach if they can take nine from their last fix­tures.

With 28 league vic­to­ries so far, City need three more wins to top Chelsea’s record of 30 Premier League wins in a sea­son.

United hold the record Premier Leaguewin­ning mar­gin of 18 points and that could also fall to City.

City have won 14 games on the road this sea­son and have two to go away from home – win­ning both of those would beat Chelsea’s record of 15.

Guardi­ola’s play­ers will fo­cus on those tar­gets once they have re­cov­ered from a bois­ter­ous evening of cel­e­bra­tions in Manch­ester.

Af­ter start­ing the ti­tle party with his Man­cu­nian wife and his United-sup­port­ing fa­therin-law, City cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany joined team­mates to raise a glass to their suc­cess.

“It is the same feel­ing as the first time, you can’t de­scribe it,” Kom­pany said.

“The first time you think you are go­ing to win all of them and the first time you lose it, you think you are never go­ing to win it again.

“It shows how foot­ball is in Manch­ester. There have been a lot more good days for the Red side but to­day it is for the Blue.

“The first one was spe­cial but this one is per­haps the one I’m most proud of. It’s a priv­i­lege to be a part of this great team.”

Un­like Bel­gian de­fender Kom­pany, Guardi­ola spent Sun­day af­ter­noon play­ing golf with his son in­stead of watch­ing the United match.

In his sec­ond sea­son in charge, Guardi­ola, aided by the vast fi­nan­cial back­ing of City’s Abu Dhabi-based own­ers, has cre­ated a sub­lime team that helped him be­come the first Span­ish coach to win the English top-flight ti­tle.

It was a far cry from his tro­phy-less first sea­son with City and Kom­pany said Guardi­ola’s tena­cious at­ti­tude led them to the sum­mit.

“It is one of the first things I no­ticed in the first month,” he said.

“There was a pe­riod of adap­ta­tion for him com­ing into the league and for us tak­ing in his meth­ods.

“He has been able to trans­fer to the team that hunger and de­sire to never be sat­is­fied.” For­mer Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich boss Guardi­ola was all smiles when he was pic­tured ar­riv­ing home af­ter his golf out­ing.

City’s ti­tle is the 24th tro­phy of his glit­ter­ing ca­reer.

Speak­ing af­ter Satur­day’s 3-1 win over Tot­ten­ham, the 47 year old gave all the credit to his play­ers.

“I am so glad to be here and be part of this club. These guys are fan­tas­tic, awe­some, they are in­cred­i­ble,” he said.

“This club is ab­so­lutely amazing in all terms.” – AFP

ALL REVVED UP: Pep Guardi­ola win­ning the ti­tle with five matches to go makes his Manch­ester City the joint ear­li­est champions in the Premier League era – match­ing the achieve­ment of the 2000-01 Man U side.

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