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In depth: Can anyone stop Pep Guardiola's Manchester City 'animals' from winning title?

Can anyone stop Guardiola's 'animals' from winning title?

14/12/2017 at 12:03Updated 14/12/2017 at 13:03

Manchester City beat the record for the number of consecutive wins in the Premier League after their 4-0 stroll against Swansea on Wednesday night.

The 15-game streak edges ahead of Arsenal’s run at the end of the 2001/02 season (and into the first game of the following campaign).

But what does the result really mean for City and their place in the pecking order for teams in the Premier League era? We take a look, starting with the newspapers’ verdict…

'One of the finest sides in English history'

The was, understandably, some pretty gushing reaction from Fleet Street's finest...

" City deserve to be celebrated as one of the finest sides in English history, simply needing the silverware now to reflect the luminosity of their football."

- Henry Winter, The Times

" No team has ever, in top-flight English football, started a season like this and it is increasingly difficult to see any side stopping City who have the imposing air of champions-elect. The gulf between these two teams was such that it emphatically felt like top against bottom."

- Jason Burt, The Telegraph

" It is premature to add this vintage to the discussion of the Premier League's all-time finest because the job is not yet done. But it will be soon enough at this rate and when it is, they will have to be prominent in the reckoning. An invincible season? Quite possibly, from the body of evidence garnered this side of Christmas. "

- Riath Al-Samarrai, Daily Mail

And here are a few of the back pages for your perusal...

Stat's amazing!

The stats, as bald as David Silva's bonce, are pretty easy to follow. City are officially the greatest winning machine in Premier League history, eclipsing even the Arsenal team of 2001/02, who went on a run of 13 straight wins, then followed it up with one more victory in the following season, before the stint was ended at West Ham.

To put the goals scored in context, Arsenal managed 'only' 31 goals in their 14-match run. They have conceded 10, to Arsenal's 6.

As a club, you could say they've been making progress too...

So, where does the result put this City team?

City's manager, Pep Guardiola, who now holds the record for most wins on the spin in three of the top European leagues, did his best to put the achievement in a Premier League context.

"In history there have been some amazing teams — Liverpool, [Manchester] United with Sir Alex Ferguson, Chelsea with Jose Mourinho," he said.

"A lot of good, good teams and we are the first ones to win 15 games in a row."

Steady on...

However, although the 46-year-old is clearly excited by his side's start to the season, to his credit he is aware that silky skills and a stunning start, do not necessarily mean silverware.

Video - How City broke the Premier League wins record

01:04

"This record will be broken but it will not be easy. When (my players) don't have the ball they go to win it like animals. At this level it's so competitive. That means we are strong in the head."

Hungry animals

Guardiola also went on the praise the desire of his players. In particular, that of David Silva for his match winning contribution against Swansea.

"David is hugely competitive, everyone knows his skills, there is no doubt - a blind guy is able to see that - but you cannot imagine how competitive he is," Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He is a stylish guy, but he is an animal, always wanting to win games."

The Catalan also hinted that his tactical work is starting to be rewarded. There is always a lot of focus on the number of goals and the attacking threat that City possess and not necessarily their discipline, which, from a defensive perspective went AWOL occasionally last season.

"When Swansea defended deep we found the patience and the right moment when they pressed," said Guardiola.

" We go to the ball like animals, in a good way, and we understood better the patience to attack in the right moment."

"They are hungry still and they want to win. That is the good thing."

For a squad of multi-millionaires, who could take their foot off the gas at any moment, this is a very promising sign for City fans.

It's not 'Wonderwall over' then?

Looking at The Sun's slightly forced pun on their back page – riffing off the loud music played in the dressing room following the win at Old Trafford over the weekend – there seems a general consensus that, perhaps, City are almost within reach of the title already.

But, of course, you should always read beyond the headlines. Clearly, the title race is far from over. Apart from anything else, there are another 21 games to go. And City also began last season well before tailing off. Granted, this is far superior to that start, but Guardiola is definitely not getting complacent.

"We spoke about that in the locker room and we said to have a good recovery everyone because in three days we have another game against Tottenham," he said.

You also have to add into the mix that City have to compete in the Champions League, where they have been given a kind last-16 draw against Basel, plus the FA Cup and League Cup. Their squad is big enough – and expensive enough – to handle it, but Guardiola will have to tinker with his star men to make sure they are fresh going into the business end of the season.

Winning ugly?

Whatever the obstacles for City, the signs are positive, particularly when it comes to discipline and defending, which, as mentioned was not always their strong point last season.

In fact, Swansea boss Paul Clement, a former assistant at Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, claimed he has not seen a better side across Europe in recent seasons. He said: "They are one of the best sides I have come across. They do the basics, the ugly side of the game."

Clement was tough on his team, but also aware, it seemed, that chances to win against side's of City's calibre would not impact their season massively.

"Our reaction was that we were very passive, showing too much respect, not aggressive enough," he said.

"But games like that aren't and won't define our season."

Additional reporting from PA Sport

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