Can Manchester City finish with a perfect record at home?
Sitting just a point out of the Premier League’s top spot, Manchester City are certainly one of the favorites for this year’s title.
But another question on many people’s minds this year is their home form.
Away from the friendly confines, City have eight points in nine matches, certainly nothing to be impressed with. What is impressive is what they’ve done at the Etihad.
At City of Manchester Stadium, the Citizens are a perfect 9-of-9 in the Premier League, garnering the full 27 points while scoring an unprecedented 37 goals and conceding just six.
They’ve beaten teams at home by scorelines such as 7-0, 6-0, 4-0, and 6-3 in explosive offensive outputs even against the best teams in the league.
It’s no surprise, as City have made the Etihad a fortress of late. Only three Premier League clubs have managed to hold City goalless at the Etihad since the start of the 2010/11 season - Arsenal, Manchester United, and Birmingham City.
But perfection is something that has never in the history of the Premier League been attained.
The Invincibles of Arsenal famously went unbeaten across the entirety of the of the 2003/04 season, but were held in four matches at home and eight on the road.
Having lost four matches already this season - all on the road - City aren’t gunning for that feat, but defender Pablo Zabaleta told the Guardian’s Henry Winter that the feat is certainly possible, but not something the team is concerned about.
“There’s always a first time to do that,” said Zabaleta. “We have to keep working hard and keep very focused on what we are doing. It doesn’t matter if we are playing home or away, we need to keep playing with the same intensity and when we play in our best form, we can beat anyone.
Even without dynamic attacker and leading scorer Sergio Aguero, who is out for significant time with a hamstring injury, they managed to take all three points against a red-hot Liverpool side.
This season manager Manuel Pellegrini’s squad has weathered significant injuries to the likes of Aguero, David Silva, and Stevan Jovetic in the attack.
The home record has also survived a ravaged defense with Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, and Matija Nastasic all missing serious time.
If the squad can maintain a high level of play at home in spite of those injuries - which they have - it would certainly seem likely that the next 10 matches could also see the same result as the first nine.
The remaining home fixtures also suggest the feat is possible. Of the top 6 teams in the table outside of City, they only have Chelsea remaining at home. They still must travel to Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Everton.
The transfer additions of Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, and Fernandinho have significantly bolstered the offensive unit, and few have been spared their devastation.
While they still trail the Gunners for first place, City will no doubt have their biggest priorities on winning the league for the second time in three seasons. It will take a complete push, including improving their mediocre play away from home.
But history beckons, and the City supporters at the Etihad will look for more fireworks at their fortress as they push towards another stellar season.