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The Take

Man City won’t finish the season undefeated but they will achieve something greater than ‘The Invincibles’

This week's 'The Take' focuses on Pep Guardiola's Man City machine and false prestige of 12 draws in a season

Man City won’t finish the Premier League season unbeaten.

But come May they will have achieved something greater than the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04.

Don’t get me wrong, Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and co deserve their special place in history but they are far from the best title-winning squad of the Premier League era.

Cover your ears lads, you’re not going to want to hear this…

PA:Empics Sport
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Cover your ears lads, you’re not going to want to hear this…

The Gunners drew 12 of their 38 league games at a time when only Chelsea and Man United could be considered genuine title challengers.

Compare that to say, the most recent champions, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who ended last season with more points than the ‘Invincibles’ and they did it in the current age of the ‘top six’.

The nostalgia of the ‘Invincibles’ mean they are generally held in higher regard than Conte’s crop of last season even though they racked up more points in a more competitive league.

The uniqueness of going unbeaten is nearly impossible to replicate but Man City have what it takes to be the best champions in Premier League history.

Rather than targeting Arsenal’s record of zero losses, they should have their eyes set on Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea of 2004/05, who won the league with a record 95 points.

Raising the bar

AFP - Getty
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Raising the bar

City’s ninth win from ten games means Pep Guardiola’s troops are off to the best start to any Premier League campaign of any team.

They’re averaging 3.5 goals a game, on course to beat Chelsea’s record season tally of 103 — achieved by the 2009/10 crop.

The two playmakers, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, are the two top assist providers in the league.

And Leroy Sane is just one assist behind them with five.

Probably my favourite Premier League player right now

Getty Images - Getty
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Probably my favourite Premier League player right now

Four of the top six goalscorers in the league play for Man City — Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Sane.

Even these impressive stats, which display an evenness and depth scarcely seen, fail to do justice to some of the performances they have put in this season.

Liverpool dispatched 5-0, the much-improved Watford hit for six, a 1-0 win against reigning champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge — already we’ve seen them display the mark of history-makers.

De Bruyne is the perfect general to execute Guardiola’s battle plan

Reuters
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De Bruyne is the perfect general to execute Guardiola’s battle plan

Guardiola’s trademark style and philosophy is as evident in this team as it was in the great Barcelona crop of 2008 – 2012.

The manner and swagger of the victories have punctuated the effectiveness of a truly breathtaking attacking unit.

Granit Xhaka has completed the most passes so far this season in the Premier League; the next five players in the list all play for City.

Man City Player of the Season will be a close contest

Getty - Contributor
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Man City Player of the Season will be a close contest

Sometimes it’s death by a thousand cuts, other times it’s a couple of swift hammer blows, but so far (bar the draw against Everton in their second game) the result has always been the same, three points.

Their defence is hardly impenetrable.

A few times their dedication to playing out from the back has been caused them problems but barring a catastrophic injury crisis of plague-like proportions, City will win the league in style.

Spain ✔️ Germany ✔️ England ❓

PA:Press Association
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Spain ✔️ Germany ✔️ England ❓

As fans we are so reluctant to favour the present over the wonders of the past but the Man City machine is impossible to ignore.

Don’t let nostalgia discredit what’s happening this season — it’s too special to ignore.

The ‘Invincibles’ will always be invincible, Leicester’s fairy tale will forever be miraculous, and Mourinho’s dominance in 2004/05 will be hard to top.

But this City could well be the most impressive champions we’ve seen on these shores since the Premier League’s inception.

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