Manchester City snatched a last-gasp win over Newcastle on Saturday as they look to kick-start their traditional title charge in the second half of the Premier League season.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won five of the last six titles and here, the PA news agency looks at their formidable record in the run-in.
Strong in the home stretch
City have won at least 14 of their final 19 games in each of the last six seasons, with a minimum of 45 points in that stretch (2.37 per game) in their five title-winning campaigns and 43 in 2019-20 when they finished second to Liverpool.
That includes the Premier League’s only 100-point tally in 2017-18 and the memorable battle the following season in which Liverpool set another record by finishing second with 97 points.
That season required City’s best run-in of all, winning 18 of their last 19 games and the last 14 in succession to stay a point ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side, who themselves finished with nine straight wins.
City won 14 of their last 19 games in 2019-20 but lost four – to Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Southampton – as they finished 18 points behind the Reds, who had built up a dominant lead by winning 18 and drawing one before the halfway point.
Guardiola’s side have won 15, 14 and 15 of their 19 games in the second half of the three seasons since, winning the title on each occasion. That includes another one-point winning margin in 2021-22, when Liverpool won 16 and drew three in the run-in.
In the six completed seasons going back to 2017-18, City won 90 out of 114 games in the second half of the campaign to earn 280 points. Oscar Bobb’s late goal at St James’ Park on Saturday provided just the start required for another strong finish to the campaign this year.
Liverpool rank second with 254 points in the equivalent games, with Manchester United the only other team over 200 at a distant 208. City do also have 267 points in the first halves of those seasons, 18 more than Liverpool with the established ‘big six’ all above 200.
Let battle recommence
Liverpool are again the main rivals for this season’s title, currently top of the league and two points ahead of City having lost only one game.
Aston Villa are alongside City on 43 points but have played a game more and won only one of their last four, with Arsenal slipping three points further back in fourth after a run of one win in five. Spurs also have 40 points but, like Villa, have played 21 games.
With City and Liverpool’s goal difference also level on plus-25, the stage is set for another memorable fight over the second half of the season.
City’s experience and winning record in those battles will aid their bid, as is the keenly awaited return of Erling Haaland – still joint-top of the Golden Boot standings with 14 goals despite missing the last five games.
He is alongside Mohamed Salah, who was ever-present for Liverpool’s first 20 games but now faces his own absence of potentially up to four matches while away with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations. Salah also leads the league in assists, alongside Villa’s Ollie Watkins, with eight.