Man City treble: Are Guardiola's men the best team of the Premier League era?

By Sports Desk May 18, 2019

Saturday's 6-0 win over Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley made Manchester City the first men's team in history to complete a clean sweep of English football's major honours in the same season.

Raheem Sterling dispatched the decisive penalty in the shoot-out against Chelsea after February's EFL Cup final at the same venue finished goalless, while City edged out Liverpool in an epic Premier League title race by beating Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1 last weekend.

Sterling and Gabriel Jesus then both scored twice on Saturday as City completed the treble, adding to a superb career body of work for manager Pep Guardiola.

But where does this City rank among the other finest teams since the Premier League rebrand of 1992-93 heralded the multi-million-pound era?

Five Omnisport writers have picked their sides.

Matt Dorman - Manchester United 1998-2001

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rode a wave of nostalgia in the early months of his return to Old Trafford and the hero of 1999 can be forgiven for indulging in past glories, such were the extraordinary feats he achieved alongside a squad of enviable depth and ability.

The now-United manager's last-gasp winner in the remarkable Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich two decades ago completed an unprecedented treble and serves as the centrepiece of an unforgettable era.

David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and brother Phil comprised the Class of 92 that blossomed late in the last millennium and delivered three straight Premier league titles, an FA Cup and that sought-after European crown.

 

Peter Hanson - Arsenal 2001-2004

History will ultimately show Arsene Wenger as a revolutionary who later failed to evolve. But boy, at their pomp Wenger's Arsenal were a dream to watch.

The pace and guile of Robert Pires, the lung-busting runs of Freddie Ljungberg, the colossus defending of Sol Campbell, the power and never-say-die attitude of Patrick Vieira, the endlessly talented Dennis Bergkamp and, last but not least, the world-class Thierry Henry, arguably the best we have ever seen in England's top flight.

The Gunners were an era-defining machine, grinding down opponents with their slick style and refusal to lay down their arms in any game. City's current vintage are a joy to watch, but for me Arsenal's 'Invincibles' remain the cream of the Premier League crop.

Liam Blackburn - Chelsea 2004-2006

City finished third in Guardiola's first trophyless season but there was no need for an adaptation period with Jose Mourinho, who immediately took English football by storm, leading the Blues to the 2004-05 title and ending a 50-year wait for a top-flight championship.

The foundations had been laid for Guardiola long before he came in but Mourinho had to swiftly find a winning formula with a squad overhauled since Roman Abramovich's takeover 12 months earlier - and the Portuguese built an all-conquering team that lost just one league game in his first season before retaining their title in the next.

Mourinho, who commanded the respect of big characters like Petr Cech, John Terry and Didier Drogba - succeeding where many future Chelsea managers failed, also reached two Champions League semi-finals only to bow out at the hands of Liverpool on each occasion thanks to Luis Garcia's 'ghost goal' and a penalty shoot-out loss.

 

Joe Wright - Manchester United 2006-2009

Mourinho raised the bar with Chelsea between 2004 and 2006. Alex Ferguson went one better, with the finest United team he assembled.

They weren't treble-winners, but they conquered England, Europe and the world. Three league titles 2006-07 to 2008-09, an EFL Cup, a Champions League and a Club World Cup speak volumes about the strength of this squad.

The defence, in front of Edwin van der Sar, was the greatest Ferguson ever had. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick controlled midfield; Owen Hargreaves did the rest. Ahead of them, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo were dazzlingly ruthless.

Jamie Smith - Manchester City 2017-2019

European success still eludes Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium but, judged solely on domestic performances over the last two years, City are the finest team of the Premier League era.

Their points totals say it all. City obliterated the competition in becoming the first team to reach 100 points last term and they almost matched that haul despite the phenomenal pressure exerted on them by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, winning 14 games in a row to retain the title.

The domestic treble had never been done by a men's team in England before and while Arsenal's Invincibles were an amazing side, they were not quite the relentless winning machine built by Guardiola.

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