EPL

Man City 'head and shoulders' above all teams in Premier League era, says James

By Sports Desk May 21, 2024

Manchester City's current crop stand "head and shoulders" above all other teams in the Premier League era after winning four straight titles, says the club's former goalkeeper David James.

City became the first team in English top-flight history to win four successive titles on Sunday, a 3-1 win over West Ham ensuring they pipped Arsenal by two points.

Huddersfield Town (1923-1926), Arsenal (1932-1935) and Liverpool (1981-1984) all won the old First Division three times in a row, while Manchester United achieved the feat twice in the Premier League era (1998-2001 and 2006-2009).

Pep Guardiola's men ended the campaign with a nine-match winning streak, while they are now unbeaten in their last 35 matches across all competitions (29 wins, six draws), the longest such run ever recorded by a Premier League team.

They have the chance to make more history on Saturday, as they can clinch unprecedented back-to-back league and FA Cup doubles against Manchester United.

For James, who spent two years with City between 2004 and 2006, Guardiola's champions have cemented their legacy as the Premier League's finest.

"They're up there. The fact they've broken the record means that no one's done better than them over that period," he told Stats Perform.

"From the moment they first won that Premier League title to now, they have been head and shoulders better than anyone else. 

"It's thoroughly deserved and one of the funny things that I love is the way they celebrate. You would think after four in a row that it would be, ‘okay, lads, let's get back in and worry about the FA Cup on the weekend'. They celebrate like they haven't got another match! 

"This is a group of players and staff who are all with each other, all behind each other, all enjoying all these moments. 

"I can't think of a team who's had that much dominance over that period of time. They just keep breaking records, don't they?"

Over the last four seasons, City's total of 359 Premier League points are 49 more than anyone else, while they have averaged 2.4 points per game and won 73.7 per cent of their league matches.

While James does not feel City's class of 2023-24 have been quite as relentless as 2022-23's treble winners, he says they always seemed to be in control in the run-in.

"I think it's interesting when we look at the whole season, because I don't think there's been a spell where City have absolutely smashed teams," James said. 

"I've followed a lot of the games this season where they've won but haven't been overly impressive, especially compared to last season. 

"But in a way, I could detect from the beginning of the season there was something different about the way Pep was approaching it. I don't think it was all the guts and thunder of last season. 

"They always had it under control and it was just like a Mo Farah finish, they put the afterburners on at the end."

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Austin FC – Sebastian Driussi

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    LAFC – Mateusz Bogusz

    Mateusz Bogusz has been involved in a goal in six consecutive league matches with four goals and two assists. 

    Only Carlos Vela (11 in 2019-20) has produced more in LAFC history, while only two players (Luciano Acosta - nine, Lionel Messi - eight) have had a longer streak in MLS this season.

    MATCH PREDICTION: LAFC WIN

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Austin FC - 27.6%

    Draw - 24.1%

    LAFC - 48.3%

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