Heading into the final day of the 2009/10 Premier League campaign, Chelsea knew that victory over Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge would be enough for them to win the title ahead of defending champions Manchester United. A 2-0 win at Liverpool the previous week had put Carlo Ancelotti’s men in pole position to finish on top of the pile, but a Wigan side who were able to play with a degree of freedom having recently secured their top-flight status would not necessarily be pushovers.
Chelsea won 8-0. It was an emphatic triumph entirely in keeping with their season as a whole, as the Blues set a new Premier League record by scoring a total of 103 goals in their 38 encounters. As well as their title-sealing thrashing of Wigan, Chelsea also demolished Blackburn 5-0, Bolton 4-0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0, Sunderland 7-2, Portsmouth 5-0, Aston Villa 7-1 and Stoke City 7-0. Many consider them to be the most entertaining team the division has seen since its rebrand in 1992.
Their record, though, could come under threat this term. It is still early days, of course, but Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have started the season with a bang and possess the same combination of attacking quality and positive management from which Chelsea benefited seven seasons ago.
Saturday’s 7-2 walloping of Stoke was a case in point. City were scintillating going forward, with Kevin De Bruyne and, to a lesser extent, David Silva pulling the strings behind a fluid front three of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus. The hosts at the Etihad Stadium cut through their opponents time and time again, as long spells of possession were followed by sudden pace-quickening and incisive passes.
It was the third home game in a row which City have won by a five-goal margin, following on from a pair of 5-0 victories over Liverpool and Crystal Palace. They also hit Watford for six at Vicarage Road and scored twice against both Bournemouth and Brighton and Hove Albion. Guardiola’s charges are the first English top-tier team since Everton in 1894/95 to score 29 goals in their first eight outings.
Finding the back of the net an average of 3.63 times per game is probably not sustainable, but City certainly have what it takes to beat Chelsea’s average of 2.71 across 38 matches. It is startling to think that Stoke conceded seven when Guardiola did not use Sergio Aguero for a single minute, while upcoming meetings with Burnley, West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal, Leicester City, Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham United are unlikely to lead to a significant downturn in City’s scoring figures.
There is a long way to go, but it would not come as a surprise if Manchester City surpassed Chelsea’s record of 103 Premier League goals in 38 games this season.
By Greg Lea