Prior to the 2017-18 season, there was a lot of debate about Pep Guardiola’s ability to deliver a title in England. Both of his predecessors had managed the feat, yet the Spaniard’s first season in charge at the Etihad ended trophy-less.
A summer spending spree that addressed some problem areas on the pitch heaped even more pressure on the former Barcelona man to deliver the goods. But no one could have predicted just how emphatically the Sky Blues would conquer the Premier League.
They secured the title with five games to spare thanks to rival Manchester United’s 0-1 defeat at home to relegation favorites West Bromwich Albion. The celebrations were slightly muted as a result but the goal was met nevertheless, with City claiming a league and cup double.
It was the Catalan’s seventh league title in nine seasons as a top-flight coach and he achieved it with a win percentage close to 85%. With further tweaking to the squad expected in the summer, the question now is: Can anyone beat them next year?
Liverpool most likely contenders
Many people see Liverpool as the team most likely to topple City next year. After falling 5-0 to the Citizens back in September, the Reds got the better of their rivals in the next three meetings including two Champions League clashes. They have since gone all the way to the final in that competition, playing some exhilarating football along the way.
The main thing that held them back from a title challenge earlier in the season was their defence. However, that did improve with the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January. There are still some question marks around the defence and goalkeeper but those issues are likely to be addressed in the summer. If they recruit well, there is every chance that they could haul themselves closer to City over the course of 38 games. But will it be enough to wrestle the title from the Etihad?
What do the bookies think?
Manchester City are the clear favorites to retain their title with prices of 8/13 available. This may seem short considering no team has won back-to-back league crowns since Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side achieved the feat back in 2008, but it reflects just how dominant City were this term.
Next up are Liverpool with a best price of 5/1 available. The bookies and football betting tips websites seem to agree that Jurgen Klopp’s men are a team on the rise who will only get stronger next season.
Coming in third are Manchester United at 7/1. This may come as a surprise to some, with the Red Devils currently sitting in second place, but they have failed to convince anyone they will raise the bar further next year. Besides, Jose Mourinho is entering his difficult third season, the period when things usually start to go wrong for him. The Portuguese boss has yet to oversee more than 185 games at a single club and will be approaching that number this time next year.
Making up the numbers are Chelsea (10/1), who are likely to have a new coach in charge, Spurs (14/1), whose coach is being linked with a move elsewhere, and Arsenal (30/1), who will also be looking for a new boss following the announcement of Arsene Wenger’s departure.