Which Premier League winning streaks are statistically the most impressive?
Some teams’ runs were defined by great attacks, others by mean defences.
When Manchester City travel to Old Trafford on Sunday, they will not only have the chance to go 11 points clear in the Premier League, but also to equal the record for consecutive victories.
Pep Guardiola’s side have gone 13 league games without dropping a point and would equal Arsenal’s 14-game run (set in 2002) with a win against Manchester United.
But are there other criteria by which to judge a winning run besides the number of victories? From the 11 winning runs of 10 games or more in the Premier League, here are the most impressive based on attack, defence, and difficulty of opposition.
Goals per game
While City have clearly been entertaining the crowds with their attacking verve, theirs is not the most thrilling rollercoaster of an unbeaten run – that honour belongs to Liverpool.
In one of the more absorbing title races in recent memory, the Reds won 11 games on the bounce under Brendan Rodgers towards the end of the 2013/14 season, and did so scoring at 3.5 goals per game – only Manchester United’s 12-game streak in 2000 and City’s current run (both 3.3 goals scored per game) come close.
Scorelines such as 5-1, 4-3 and 6-3 adorned the run, before a 2-0 defeat by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea scuppered Liverpool’s title chances – they became the first and only PL team to score more than 100 league goals and fail to win the league.
Liverpool’s 2014 streak was defined by goals, but Rafael Benitez’s 2005/06 side built their house upon a rock-solid defence.
Having drawn four of their first five Premier League games, before losing two of their next three, the Reds lifted themselves to third in the division by Christmas courtesy of a winning run in which they conceded just one goal in 10 games – a rate of 0.1 goals per game, compared with the 1.4 goals per game they conceded in their 2014 streak.
That might have something to do with the fact that Liverpool’s run was statistically the easiest, with none of the teams they faced finishing in the top six that year.
City’s current run of course could surpass Arsenal’s record of 14 consecutive wins, but in many ways it is already superior.
Averaging 3.3 goals scored per game, and 0.7 conceded, City’s average goal difference of +2.6 per game is the best of the lot, beating United’s +2.4 per game achieved in 2000.
City have also scored 12 goals more than Arsenal did during their 14-game winning streak, despite playing one game fewer.
It’s a thoroughly impressive achievement in attack and defence, but it’s attack that this run will be remembered for most fondly. Two 5-0 wins, a 6-0 win away at Watford and a 7-2 win against Stoke City have helped fire the Manchester side eight points clear at the top of the table.
Difficulty of opposition
A winning run means more if you beat better opposition, and under this criteria not all streaks are created equally.
Chelsea’s run of 13 wins in the first half of the 2016/17 season came against statistically the hardest opposition – their beaten opponents finished on average 10.8th that season, compared with Liverpool’s run in 2005/06 where their opponents finished on average a lowly 13.8th.
Beating reigning champions Leicester, hammering Manchester United 4-0, pipping Spurs 2-1 and then beating Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad was enough to suggest Antonio Conte’s men might just run away with the title.
Defeat to Tottenham brought the Blues’ wagon crashing to a halt in the new year, but five more consecutive wins at the end of the season ensured Chelsea sealed their fifth Premier League title with time to spare.
Kings of the 1-0
The lowest-scoring winning streak comes from the Manchester United crop of 2009, who went 11 games unbeaten while scoring at just 1.9 goals per game from December 2008 to March 2009.
Three 1-0 victories kicked things off for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at the turn of the year – United had already gone five games without conceding before their winning streak commenced – before Liverpool ended their dominance in spectacular fashion with a 4-1 win at Old Trafford.
Edwin van der Sar broke the record for minutes without conceding (1,311) during the streak too, with United’s 11-game run eventually including six scores of 1-0.