It promises to be a very merry Christmas for Manchester City fans as they toast a first half of the season that has seen them build up a record advantage over second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League.
Having gone 19 matches without defeat, talk of Pep Guardiola’s side going the full season unbeaten has inevitably grown in volume.
Arsenal are the only club to have achieved the feat in the Premier League era – doing so in 2003-04.
But how do the two sides compare? Here, we crunch the numbers.
A RECORD LEAD
Arsenal’s midway tally of 45 points was only enough to earn them second spot in early January – a point behind Manchester United – and they would be a daunting 10 adrift of the current City side.
Six draws from their opening 19 matches of an unbeaten season meant that, while Arsenal were impossible to beat, they struggled to truly take control of the campaign.
City, by contrast, have been held just once – a 1-1 draw with Everton in their second match of the season – and have opened up a 13-point lead over United at the summit.
That gap is the biggest at Christmas in top-flight history and City have embarked on a 17-match winning run since their draw with Everton – an English league record.
Arsenal’s biggest win in the first half of the 03-04 season was a 4-0 victory at Middlesbrough, while this City side have matched or surpassed that winning margin on six separate occasions.
With results like that it is no surprise to learn that City are some way clear of Arsenal when it comes to goals scored.
City’s 60 goals from 19 matches sees them a whopping 25 better off than Arsenal’s 03-04 contingent at the same stage, helping them surpass 100 in 2017 – the first side since Liverpool in 1982 to achieve that feat.
Their goal difference also dwarfs that of Arsene Wenger’s side of 14 years ago – +48 compared to Arsenal’s +23.
Individually, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero lead the way for Guardiola’s side with 12 goals apiece, ahead of Gabriel Jesus on eight and the ever-present Kevin De Bruyne on six, alongside Leroy Sane.
Thierry Henry’s half-season total for Arsenal matches that of Sterling and Aguero but he carried more of the goalscoring burden alone, with Robert Pires Arsenal’s next best on seven, ahead of Gilberto Silva on four.
CITY CLOSEST TO DEFEAT
While City dominate most of the comparisons, it is Guardiola’s men who have actually come closest to losing in the first half of the season.
The latest equalising goal scored by Arsenal was in the 69th minute of an eventual 2-1 victory over local rivals Tottenham.
City, meanwhile, had to wait until the 82nd minute for Sterling to salvage a point in their solitary draw against Everton.
But Guardiola’s side have since been peerless, defeating every team in their path to tee up a potentially historic second half of the season.
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