The Hard Tackle takes a closer at the current Manchester City juggernaut and pits it against the Invincibles of Arsenal from the 2003-04 Premier League season.
Premier League football is witnessing a historic season, as Manchester City is running riot through the rest of the competition. Under Pep Guardiola, the club is set to win the league with weeks to spare, playing so well that they can focus on other competitions.
City have drawn comparisons with the Arsenal squad known as The Invincibles – the gold standard in a single Premier League season prior to this City side. But could the current City side actually be better than The Invincibles?
Before getting too deep into this discussion, it must be noted that the 2003-2004 Arsenal team did not lose one match over the course of an entire season. That is an achievement that may never be matched in the history of the league. Of course, going undefeated for an entire season is something City cannot accomplish in the 2017-2018 campaign, after their loss to Liverpool. That is an advantage to Arsenal in this debate.
However, that is where the advantages end for Arsenal. City have been so much more impressive in the actual football that they have played this season that it seems silly to put The Invincibles in the same class as Guardiola’s men. Arsenal drew 12 times in the 2003-2004 season, dropping 24 points over the course of the campaign. City have dropped half of that after their first 28 matches.
City have also scored more goals in 28 matches than Arsenal scored in that entire campaign, with Aguero, Sane, and De Bruyne surpassing the likes of Henry and Bergkamp in terms of their ability to shred defences. With City likely to cross 100 goals in the current Premier League campaign, they will ascend to a higher plane than Arsenal’s attack did in their Invincibles season.
From a football betting perspective, compare City’s success this season to The Invincibles, who failed to win 12 of their 38 matches, which yielded a return in fewer matches thanks to their more defensive nature. Their matches contained fewer goals, which made them tighter than City and created the draws that would have lost bettors money had they backed the Gunners.
While it takes a great team to not lose any of their matches, it takes an even greater team to consistently win money for their backers, as City has.
City have been so consistently great that they have delivered a return on investment for punters on a long-term basis – especially those taking advantage of free bets, such as Ladbrokes’ £50 welcome offer. In calculating the return on investment that City have generated this season, it is clear that backing them in every match over the course of this campaign would have been a very profitable strategy, something The Invincibles cannot claim.
Of course, City still need to have success in the Champions League if they are to be remembered as one of the truly great teams of all-time. But in terms of Premier League success itself, unless City suffer a run of poor form towards the end of this season, they deserve to go down as the best team in league history.