Man City on the cusp of history as Arsenal ponder Emery curse

Ruben Dias and Erling Haaland
Ruben Dias and Erling Haaland (PC: ManCity/X)

RevSportz Comment

If you’re Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, you could be forgiven for wondering what more you could have done. Since the turn of the year, Arsenal have won 15 of their 17 English Premier League matches, and drawn at Manchester City, while scoring an incredible 52 goals. That run, which has seen 11 clean sheets and just eight goals conceded, has included victories over Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. But the sporting universe frequently deals in karma, and it’s quite likely that their solitary defeat in 2024 will extend the club’s wait for a league title to at least 21 seasons. The architect of that 0-2 loss? Unai Emery, who had succeeded Arsene Wenger in the Arsenal dugout and was sacked before Arteta took over.

Emery had a win-loss record of 43-19 in 78 games as Arsenal manager. But for an April meltdown – four losses to teams below them in the table – he would have finished his only full season in charge with Champions League qualification. Instead, after an indifferent spell of results, he was dismissed the following November.

Emery has now led Aston Villa into the Champions League. It was he that administered Pep Guardiola’s last defeat in the league, in December, and Arsenal fans will wince when they look back on the home and away losses to Villa which look to have cost their team the title.

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Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland (PC: ManCity/X)

Sport can be a funny business. Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ from the 2003-04 season have pride of place in the club’s history. Yet, Arteta’s team have already won a game more (27) and scored 16 more goals, with one match remaining. But without the prize that matters, this season will be no more than a footnote in the club’s illustrious history.

As for City, making history is what they seem to specialise in. Inquiries into financial impropriety may still impact how this team is viewed generations from now, but on the field, they have done little wrong. For much of the season, Liverpool or Arsenal set the pace. But as has so often been the case in the Guardiola years, City have found an extra gear when it matters most.

Their unbeaten league run now stands at 22, with 18 wins. On Tuesday night, after Tottenham had squandered multiple chances and half-chances, Erling Haaland scored early in the second half with what was his first touch in the opposition box. And after Ederson went off injured, Stefan Ortega, the back-up goalkeeper, pulled off a couple of stunning saves to win himself the Player of the Match award.

In nearly 140 years of league football, no team has ever won England’s top-tier title four times in a row. Unless West Ham and the departing David Moyes can pull off the mother of all upsets on Sunday, City will achieve that feat on May 19. In a season where Kevin de Bruyne was absent for months and where Haaland didn’t look quite as intimidating as last term, the narrative has turned out to be an all-too-familiar one. 

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