No side has ever been crowned champions with more games to spare in England and they could add more records before the season is out, alongside their league-best winning run of 18 matches that spanned August to December past year.
City became Premier League champions following Manchester United’s 1-0 loss to West Brom on Sunday and Guardiola, who spent the day playing golf rather than watching United, couldn’t stop smiling as he arrived home on Sunday evening.
“He is the best example and he helps us to be a better club, a better institution for the future”, Guardiola said after De Bruyne led a 4-1 destruction of Tottenham Hotspur in November. “After what happened and how the people reacted, these guys are fantastic”.
In the space of 10 incredible days, they pipped Arsenal to the title by a single point, dispatched Newcastle in the FA Cup final and headed to the Camp Nou, where immortality awaited.
‘I think winning at Stamford Bridge gave us the confidence, ‘ said Guardiola. “We will have another chance against Swansea [who City host next weekend] and we are going to try and be champions”. Throughout this period of unenviable personal anguish, the diminutive Silva has remained a footballing giant on the field for City, adding to his substantial collection of sublime displays and man-of-the-match accolades. But, as he did in the sapping derby defeat to Manchester United last weekend, the England global passed up a pair of glorious chances.
What is clear is City has its swagger back after a demoralizing week that saw the leaders fail to seal top spot by losing the Manchester derby and exiting the Champions League. David Silva, 32, is a similar age to Fernandinho and Guardiola observed that “Next season, David maybe will not play every game, that’s why the squad has to be big”. It’s exactly what you want from him.
All of Liverpool’s prolific front three were on target as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struck either side of Salah’s deft header to take their combined tally for the season to 82.
United, meanwhile, will attempt to hold onto second place and automatic qualification into the Champions League group stages next season. Unusually sluggish, Tottenham didn’t test City and, with a swagger back in their stride, Guardiola’s men took the lead in the 22nd minute.
City did not lose a game until January – against Liverpool – and drew just twice until that memorable clash at Anfield, while smashing five past Liverpool at the Etihad early in the season, as they stunned opposition, supporters and critics alike with their performances.
But – for all their possession – they could not muster any chances and it was City that had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed in the 64th minute.
Huddersfield was a point above Palace after Tom Ince’s stoppage-time goal beat Watford 1-0.
When City beat Swansea 4-0 on December 13, the team established an English top-flight record of 15 straight victories – surpassing the 14-match winning streaks of Arsenal (2002), Preston (1951), and both Manchester United and Bristol City in 1905.