Time has witnessed incredible feats, like Manchester United’s treble win in 1998-99, Arsenal’s Invincibles in 2003-04, Leicester’s miraculous season in 2015-16, and now Manchester City’s treble victory in 2022-23.
Under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City consistently shatters records and redefines history. Their Champions League victory was the crowning achievement of their treble-winning season, finally overcoming their European curse and capturing the long-desired trophy.
Despite securing the league title three matches in advance, City played catch-up to Arsenal for the majority of the season, spending just 42 days at the pinnacle, a title-winning campaign that had only two teams spending less time at the top.
Their comeback ignited after a defeat by Tottenham in February, as they clinched 12 consecutive victories and eventually surpassed the Gunners, enabling Guardiola to secure his 11th title in his 14th season as a top-tier coach.
The 2022-23 squad led by Guardiola perfectly combined physical prowess, technical adeptness and, importantly, Erling Haaland. The introduction of Haaland brought a change in City’s strategy from a false nine forward to a low-touch scoring machine.
Haaland, the striker, set new records by scoring the most goals by a Premier League player in all competitions in a single season (52) and most goals in a single Premier League campaign (36).
He averaged 23 touches for each league goal last season, equalling the number of hat-tricks in all competitions (six) as all other Premier League players combined. His physicality added a fresh dimension to City’s game, allowing for a more direct approach, effectively used in both matches against title competitors Arsenal.
Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne assisted eleven of Haaland’s 52 goals, forming an imposing partnership from the start and recording a season-high 28 assists in all competitions.
City, having claimed five of the last six top-tier titles on offer, including the past three, are unsurprisingly the favourites for 2023-24, with a 90.3% chance of securing the trophy according to Opta’s predictor model. So, the question arises, can anyone prevent City from winning a record fourth consecutive top-flight title?
While Arsenal views the 2022-23 season as a missed opportunity, they also consider it a significant advancement under manager Mikel Arteta. Despite leading the league for a record number of days without actually winning the title, the Gunners outdid themselves, achieving their highest points total since the Invincibles in 2003-04.
Various circumstances contributed to the dissolution of Arsenal’s title pursuit last season, with the injury to William Saliba and a lack of quality substitutes outside the starting XI proving detrimental. Consequently, Arteta and Arsenal sporting director Edu have tackled this summer’s transfer window with a clear plan, swiftly concluding most of their business and strengthening key positions with notable acquisitions such as Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber, and Declan Rice.
The Gunners will need a strong start, just like they had last season when they won nine of their first 10 games, setting a solid foundation for their title pursuit.
Using Opta’s power rankings, we can gauge the difficulty of each team’s season opener. Arsenal’s first five opponents are Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Manchester United, and Everton, the fifth easiest start based on average opponent ranking of 57.4, which lends optimism to their prospects of repeating last season’s strong start.
Only Liverpool has been able to answer the question “Can anyone stop City?” in recent years. Achieving 92-plus points in three out of the past five campaigns, and only winning one title shows how consistently high City has set the standard.
Exciting and high-quality title races have been the hallmark of Guardiola and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s tenure, and given Liverpool’s history of pushing City to the limit, they are seen as second favourites going into 2023-24, with Opta’s predictor assigning them a 5.2% chance of outdoing City.
However, Liverpool may be in a transition phase this season. With the exit of captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho’s expected departure, their revamped midfield consisting of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai will need to hit the ground running to keep up with the pace from the get-go.
Despite initial concerns, new manager Erik ten Hag managed to stabilize Manchester United, leading them to Carabao Cup victory, an FA Cup final, the Europa League semi-final, and a third-place finish in the league. At the start of the year, whispers of a potential quadruple were heard.
It’s often quoted that titles are won on clean sheets, and United led the league in clean sheets last season (17). However, they’ve chosen to make changes in goal. After 12 seasons at Old Trafford, David de Gea left United after a season where he won the Golden Glove, but also made the joint most mistakes leading to a goal of any Premier League goalkeeper in all competitions (four).
His replacement, Andre Onana, had an exceptional Champions League run with runners-up Inter Milan. Based on Opta’s Expected Goals on Target Conceded model, he prevented more goals (7.8) than any other goalkeeper in the competition last term.
But it’s his passing ability that likely attracted Ten Hag’s interest. Onana completed 10 more passes per 90 minutes than De Gea last season (29 per 90), and his touch map from the Champions League final demonstrates the kind of goalkeeper they’ve signed.
Could Manchester City falter?
Manchester United retained the Premier League in 1999-2000 following their treble-winning season. What’s next for Manchester City after their treble? The potential effect of last season’s 61-game run on City’s players going into 2023-24 is unknown. Rivals can only hope for a hangover similar to Jack Grealish’s to extend into next season.
City’s core players (Ederson, Rodri, and Haaland) played more than 80% of Premier League minutes last season, greatly contributing to their success. In all competitions, Rodri played more minutes (4,478) than any other outfield player for a big five European league team, becoming an integral part of Guardiola’s strategy.
Every team has a lifecycle, and many of City’s influential players are nearing or past their prime years. After the exits of Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez, Guardiola may be facing his largest rebuild at City yet, with several other potential departures on the horizon.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Manchester City’s title defense
Who are considered the main rivals to Manchester City’s Premier League title in the 2023-24 season?
Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are considered the main rivals to Manchester City’s Premier League title in the 2023-24 season. Each team has been undergoing changes to their squads and strategies in order to contest City’s dominance.
Who was Manchester City’s star player in the 2022-23 season?
Erling Haaland was the star player for Manchester City in the 2022-23 season, scoring a record 52 goals in all competitions, including 36 in the Premier League. His addition to the team allowed for a shift in playing style and added a new dimension to City’s attack.
What are the key changes in Arsenal’s team for the upcoming season?
Arsenal has been very active in the transfer window, making key signings such as Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber, and Declan Rice to bolster their squad. These changes are expected to enhance their depth and overall quality.
How did Manchester United fare last season under new boss Erik ten Hag?
Under Erik ten Hag, Manchester United saw significant improvements, achieving Carabao Cup glory, an FA Cup final, the Europa League semi-final, and a third-place finish in the Premier League.
What could potentially hinder Manchester City’s performance in the 2023-24 season?
Factors such as player fatigue from the previous 61-game season, departures of key players, and the aging of certain influential players could potentially affect Manchester City’s performance in the 2023-24 season.