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Manchester City’s win over Brentford on Wednesday puts them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League at the end of the year.
While there are many twists and turns left in this season’s title race, Pep Guardiola should be celebrating on New Years’ Eve as 2021 was his most successful year as Manchester City manager.
With the win over Brentford, Manchester City have accumulated 110 points from 44 Premier League games this calendar year. They won 36 matches, drew two, and lost six. When adjusted for the number of games, they would have picked up 95 points over a 38-game season.
That’s not as many as in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, but it is more than in the calendar years for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
If those years are adjusted to 38 games, then City would have picked up 93.1 points in 2017, 90.4 points in 2018 and 92 points in 2019.
This time last year, Manchester City were eighth in the Premier League, albeit with two games in hand. But their phenomenal run at the start of 2021, when they won 13 games in a row, propelled them up the table. They ended the year in similar form with ten back-to-back wins in the league.
City achieved that feat despite playing more Premier League games than any other team this year.
They have played 44 times in the Premier League alone, mainly due to those games in hand City had at the start of the year. No other team has played more than 42 league games, and Burnley, after their match with Manchester United, would have only played 39.
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But every team has played more times this calendar year than they would play in a regular season as the 2020/2021 season kicked off late due to the impact of Covid-19 on the sporting calendar. Manchester City might have played the most games, but the depth of their squad perhaps makes them better equipped for a heavier schedule than their rivals.
Many sides would see a drop in form without their star midfielder, but Kevin De Bruyne has only featured in 26 of Manchester City’s 44 league games this year. “Ever-present” defender Ruben Dias has missed five of those 44 games, and Phil Foden hasn’t featured at all in 13 games and only played the full 90 minutes for 15 matches.
Manchester City’s dominance this season can be seen in the stats as well as the league table. They are top of the league when expected goals are used and have the highest possession, pass accuracy and shots on target per game in the league, as well as ranking second for shots and dribbles per game.
While Manchester City have huge financial backing, their dominance means Pep Guardiola must be considered for the Premier League manager of the year.
Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, West Ham United’s David Moyes and Brighton and Hove Albion’s Graham Potter would also be vying with Guardiola for such an award.
In the 2021 calendar year league table (adjusted for games played), Arsenal would have finished fourth, just one point behind Liverpool, while West Ham would be sixth and Brighton ninth. Despite finishing second last season, Manchester United’s poor form since they briefly topped the Premier League in January has them down in fifth in the 2021 table.
Manchester City will be hoping that 2022 is just as successful as 2021, but one thing’s for sure – they won’t have to play 44 Premier League matches in 2022.