x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Taking more points off rivals key to Man City's progress next season

Inside the numbers City won just one of their six games involving Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

A first trophy in 35 years. Check. Champions League qualification for the first time. Check.

Now Manchester City's next task is to overcome Chelsea and Manchester United's stranglehold on the Premier League title.

How will they do this?

They can improve in several areas for next season. Most fans would like to see Roberto Mancini play a more attacking line-up and perhaps ditch one of his three defensive midfielders from the starting XI.

Carlos Tevez could do with some support in the scoring stakes. He netted 21 goals in the league, but only Yaya Toure (8) and Mario Balotelli (6) got more than five.

But the key area is to improve their record against fellow title challengers.

City led the table in results against teams who finished in the bottom half of the table - they won 15 of their 20 games, losing just once and taking 49 points from teams placed 11th to 20th. Some would even might say that makes them flat-track bullies.

And while it is a great attribute to be able to see off lesser teams with ease, wins against your rivals are vital. City won just one of their six games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The only win came against an Arsenal side who played with 10 men for most of the game.

Their record against top-four hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur was much better, with four points garnered from two games.

If they can improve against their fellow Champions League chasing teams, they might just be able to close what was a nine-point gap to first place.

Facts and figures from Inside the Numbers

Quality going up

Some pundits and supporters have claimed that this has not been a vintage Premier League season.

What this means exactly is not clear. Would they prefer one team to run away with the title, like Barcelona in Spain?

Manchester United won the league with more points than in their treble season of 1999, yet the title race was still wide open going into the final month.

That more teams were within a shout of the title is evidence that the overall quality has improved and the gap has closed between the top teams and the rest. And the league is healthier for it.

And it is evidenced by the fact that Chelsea were the only team to put together five wins in a row this season. In 2009/10 five teams managed that feat.

Wigan Athletic managed to string two victories together only in their final two matches to beat the drop.

Team    Longest winning streak
Chelsea              5
Man Utd             4
Man City            4
Liverpool            4

The men who made 38

17 players appeared in all 38 Premier League games this season, an outstanding achievement in this present era of squad rotation. Of those 17, Everton, Birmingham City and Chelsea accounted for three players each. Notably, all but one - Florent Malouda - were defensive players.

Ever presents
3 - Birmingham (Roger Johnson, Stephen Carr, Ben Foster)
3 - Chelsea (Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda)
3 - Everton (Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard)
2 - Liverpool (Martin Skrtel, Pepe Reina)

Level on 21 goals apiece

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez and Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov shared the Premier League Golden Boot this season with 21 goals each for their respective clubs, the first time the award has been shared since 1998/99.