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Arsenal beware? – Analysing Pep Guardiola’s outrageous league record as a manager

Arsenal are edging ever closer to the Premier League title after the Gunners opened up an eight-point advantage at the top of the division.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side have exceeded all expectations to lead the title race, with the north Londoners looking to hold off defending champions Manchester City across the run-in. City have won four of the last five Premier League titles and boast a manager with a long history of winning league titles.

Pep Guardiola has failed to win the league title in just three of his 13 seasons as a manager, claiming ten titles during spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

As the title race heats up, we’ve looked back at Guardiola’s incredible record of league title success.

Barcelona – 2008/09 (1st)

Guardiola was appointed manager of Barcelona ahead of the 2008/09 campaign, as the Spaniard replaced Frank Rijkaard following a season without silverware. Guardiola had coached Barcelona’s B side the previous season, but the move into the senior role represented a sizeable step up and show of faith from president Joan Laporta.

Having moved on big names including Ronaldinho and Deco, Guardiola rebuilt the side with additions that included Dani Alves and Gerard Pique and the promotion of academy prospects Sergio Busquets and Pedro. Barcelona exceeded all expectations during a memorable first season for Guardiola, who led the Catalans to the La Liga title.

Their season included a 6-2 thrashing of runners-up Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, while the Spanish side went on to add the Copa del Rey and Champions League to complete a historic treble. It was the first time in Spanish football history that a club had achieved a continental treble.

Barcelona – 2009/10 (1st)

Barcelona retained their league title the following season and racked up a then-record 99 points in the process. The Catalans – who signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan during the summer – opened the league season with a 21-game unbeaten run and lost just once in La Liga all season to edge Real Madrid in the title race.

Guardiola’s side added the Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup to their list of honours, but were unable to defend the Copa del Rey and Champions League. Barcelona lost to Sevilla in the last 16 of the Spanish Cup and exited in Europe at the semi-final stage to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.

Barcelona – 2010/11 (1st)

Guardiola’s Barcelona are often cited as the best club side of all time and perhaps the best version of his team came during the 2010/11 season.

A third consecutive league title was won, with a 16-game winning run from October to February building a lead the Spaniards would not relinquish despite a strong challenge from Real Madrid. The club’s greatest success came in Europe however, as Barcelona reclaimed the Champions League.

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Their spellbinding performance to beat Manchester United in the final at Wembley cemented their status as one of the finest footballing outfits the game has seen.

“They do mesmerise you with the way they pass it,” Sir Alex Ferguson said after the defeat.

“They’re the best in Europe, no question about that. In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.”

Barcelona – 2011/12 (2nd)

It wasn’t until Guardiola’s fourth season in charge that the Spaniard first failed to win the league title. A record-breaking season from Real Madrid – now under the management of Jose Mourinho – halted Barcelona’s dominance of the division.

Mourinho’s men set a number of records including 100 points amassed in a single season, 121 goals scored, a goal difference of +89, and 32 league wins. Barcelona – who won the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup – finished nine points behind the champions from the capital.

Citing a desire to take a break from the game, Guardiola stepped down from his role as manager at the end of the season.

Bayern Munich – 2013/14 (1st)

After a season-long sabbatical, Guardiola returned to club management at Bayern Munich. The German giants had won a historic treble under Jupp Heynckes the previous season and Guardiola’s first season saw him lead the side to a second successive Bundesliga title.

Bayern lost just twice all season to finish a huge 19 points clear of runners-up Borussia Dortmund, while the Bavarians added further silverware in the form of the DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.

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The club’s defence of the Champions League ended at the semi-final stage, as Guardiola’s side were thrashed 5-0 on aggregate against Real Madrid.

Bayern Munich – 2014/15 (1st)

Bayern again cruised to league title success during the 2014/15 campaign, seeing off the challenge of Wolfsburg to finish ten points clear at the top of the Bundesliga. Three of the club’s five league defeats came after the title had already been sewn up.

Robert Lewandowski – signed on a free transfer from rivals Borussia Dortmund the previous summer – ended the season as the club’s leading scorer with 25 goals in all competitions.

Bayern again reached the last four of the Champions League, but lost to Guardiola’s former side Barcelona across two legs.

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Bayern Munich – 2015/16 (1st)

Guardiola led Bayern Munich to another league title during his final season in charge, as the Bavarians became the first club in the history of the Bundesliga to win four consecutive titles.

Bayern lost just twice all season and boasted a ten-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the season’s end, but again found cup success elusive with semi-final exits in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Guardiola opted against renewing his contract in Germany and departed at the end of the season, with Carlo Ancelotti named as his successor at the Allianz Arena.

Manchester City – 2016/17 (3rd)

Manchester City unveiled Guardiola as their new head coach ahead of the 2016/17 season and the Spaniard began brilliantly in English football. City opened the Premier League season with six straight wins to lead the table, but began to falter and ended the season without silverware.

Guardiola suffered his biggest ever domestic loss with a 4-0 defeat at Everton, while the Citizens crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 after a thrilling tie with Monaco.

City’s mixed league form saw them finish a distant third in the Premier League title race, as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were crowned champions. It remains the lowest league finish of Guardiola’s managerial career.

Manchester City – 2017/18 (1st)

Guardiola’s revolution at Manchester City accelerated during the 2017 summer transfer window, as the Spaniard brought in the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ederson and Kyle Walker to add to his squad.

The result was the most dominant season in Premier League history, as City’s ‘Centurions’ racked up a number of divisional records on route to the title. Guardiola’s side set new landmarks for most points (100), biggest winning margin (19 points), most wins (32), most goals (106), best goal difference (+79) and most consecutive victories (18).

Gabriel Jesus’ late winner at Southampton ensured City became the first team to reach 100 points in the history of English football, cementing their status as one of the Premier League’s great sides.

Manchester City – 2018/19 (1st)

Manchester City made more history the following season, defending the Premier League title as part of English football’s first ever domestic treble.

Another huge point haul was required to see off the challenge of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who racked up 97 points of their own – the most points by a team without winning the title and the then third-highest total in the history of England’s top division.

City’s 98 points saw them edge the Reds after a fascinating title race, one which saw Guardiola’s side hold their nerve to end the season with 14 consecutive wins to seal the title.

Guardiola’s side added the FA Cup and League Cup to their Premier League title, a treble no side had previously achieved.

Manchester City – 2019/20 (2nd)

City were unable to maintain their consistency from the previous two campaigns in 2019/20, as a rampant Liverpool side claimed the title.

It was a season of unprecedented complications as the Covid-19 pandemic brought a temporary halt to the campaign, with football paused in mid-March and resumed over the summer months. City ended the season as runners-up in the Premier League, but finished a huge 18 points adrift of the champions.

Liverpool racked up records to win 99 points and a first league title since 1990, following the best ever start to a season in Europe’s top five leagues. Jurgen Klopp’s team won 26 and drew one of their opening 27 league games, before suffering a first defeat of the season on February 29.

Manchester City – 2020/21 (1st)

Manchester City regained the title the following season, overcoming a difficult start to secure a third coronation in four campaigns.

A 15-game winning run from December to March catapulted Guardiola’s side to the top of the table, a position the club would not relinquish. Ruben Dias’ arrival from Benfica proved the catalyst behind their success, as the centre-back shored up a defence which had struggled the previous campaign.

The Portugal international became the first defender since Steve Nichol in 1989 to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award, while teammates Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden claimed the PFA Player’s Player and PFA Young Player awards respectively.

Manchester City – 2021/22 (1st)

Guardiola’s side won a fourth title in just five seasons in 2021/22, again holding off a strong challenge from Liverpool to be crowned champions. For the second time, City beat Liverpool to the title by a single point as both sides broke the 90-point barrier once again.

A dramatic final day saw City win the title, as the champions fought from two goals down to beat Aston Villa at the Etihad.

Goals from Matty Cash and Philippe Coutinho had threatened to derail the club’s title hopes, but Ilkay Gundogan’s late double and Rodri’s low effort ensured a sixth Premier League crown arrived on the blue half of Manchester.

Read – Iconic Performances: Rivaldo and the greatest hat-trick ever scored

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