2017-2018: City become The Centurions
|Champions||Manchester City||Biggest Win||Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City|
|Runners-Up||Manchester United||Highest Scoring Game||Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 Leicester City|
|Third Place||Tottenham Hotspur||Top Goalscorer||Mohamed Salah (32)|
|Relegated||Swansea City, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion||Goals Scored||1018|
Manchester City rewrote the Premier League history books in 2017-2018 as Pep Guardiola’s side destroyed the rest of the competition to claim their third top-flight title in the modern era. In the process, they became the first team to record 100 points in a Premier League season.
After finishing third in his first season on these shores, Guardiola was aiming to take big leaps forward and immediately strengthened his defensive options. Goalkeeper Ederson, full-backs Benjamin Mendy, Danilo and Kyle Walker were added whilst Bernardo Silva was another signing to increase the Citizens’ attacking options.
There was an early season draw against Everton but Raheem Sterling’s dramatic late winner away at AFC Bournemouth started an extraordinary run of 19 successive top-flight victories, smashing the previous mark held by Arsenal in 2002. By the end of the calendar year, only Everton and Crystal Palace had taken any points away from Manchester City and the title was virtually theirs.
Talk of an unbeaten season ended in mid-January when they lost a riveting encounter at Anfield to Liverpool FC 4-3 but teams continued to be steamrolled on a frequent basis. In early April, they had the chance to wrap up the title at home to their city rivals, Manchester United. However, a dramatic fightback, led by Paul Pogba saw the Red Devils win 3-2 to delay the title celebrations by a week. The waiting wasn’t for too long though. United’s shock 1-0 home loss eight days later to West Bromwich Albion meant Manchester City became uncatchable. Their victory on 15th April made them the earliest champions in Premier League history.
In the closing weeks, more records continued to tumble. Manchester City broke Chelsea’s most wins in a record season from 2016-2017, finishing with 32. They also ended up with the best-ever positive goal difference total, the highest amount of goals scored in any Premier League season and a 19-point winning margin which was the biggest difference between the top two. However, one more record Guardiola wanted was to become the first team to achieve 100 points in a season. This was achieved in dramatic style on the final day when Gabriel Jesus’ stoppage-time winner away at Southampton saw them achieve the milestone in the grand manner. It was virtually the perfect season for Manchester City.
Manchester United achieved their best finish in the table since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, although their thoughts were with their former manager who suffered a brain haemorrhage in early May and was in hospital. He has now happily made a full recovery. United were runners-up but suffered notable defeats to the three newly-promoted clubs on their way to second position.
Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC claimed the other two Champions League positions. Harry Kane had another wonderful season and in December, he surpassed Alan Shearer’s total of most Premier League goals in a calendar year. Kane also broke the 30-goal total but couldn’t hold onto the Golden Boot. That went to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. The extraordinary Egyptian finished with the best total of goals in a 38-game season, ending with 32 and he edged out Kevin De Bruyne to land both the Football Writers’ Award and PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
After their title-winning success in 2016-2017, it all fell apart for Antonio Conte at Chelsea. An opening day defeat to Burnley indicated that this title defence was not going to be a successful one. Conte continued to argue all season with the Blues hierarchy, frustrated at missing out on crucial transfer targets. Chelsea did win the FA Cup but could only finish fifth in the final standings. Without Champions League football, Chelsea decided to sack the Italian and he has been replaced by Maurizio Sarri.
It was also the end for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. The Gunners endured another disappointing campaign, winning just four times away from The Emirates Stadium. Mesut Ozil did sign a new contract but Alexis Sanchez left for Manchester United and more fan protests continued throughout the season. Wenger’s departure was confirmed in April and fittingly, he was given a nice send-off by the home faithful after 22 years at the helm. Arsenal finished a distant sixth.
Burnley were best of the rest. Sean Dyche’s side were in the top four in mid-December and despite a 12-game winless sequence midway through the campaign, they finished a phenomenal seventh to earn a UEFA Europa League qualifying spot. Another team who did well to finish in the top half were Newcastle United. The experience and the guile of Rafa Benitez helped them to a 10th place finish, having been in the bottom three in early February. Despite takeover talk all season which never materialised, the St James’ Park faithful could enjoy victories at home against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
At the wrong end of the table, West Bromwich Albion endured a miserable season. After winning their first two matches, they didn’t win another game until mid-January. Tony Pulis was sacked in November and after Alan Pardew’s disastrous reign, there was too much for Darren Moore to do, despite late season wins over Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Stoke City and Swansea City’s lengthy runs in the top-flight also came to an end. Both clubs changed their manager but were relegated in the final fortnight of the season.
Pep Guardiola has enjoyed sensational success as a manager, winning a clutch of titles in Spain and Germany with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. In England, his Manchester City side dismantled the Premier League record books in 2017-2018 and have hinted that they could become the dominating force of this league for years to come.