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Has any team ever won four Premier League titles in a row?

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Manchester City are aiming for another historic feat as the 2023/24 Premier League season races towards its conclusion.

Liverpool have fallen away in what was a three-horse title race, leaving City and Arsenal to battle it out for glory over the final week of the campaign.

Pep Guardiola’s side won the treble last season. This time around a penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals ended their reign as European champions, but they will face rivals Manchester United in a re-run of last season’s FA Cup final.

City travel to Fulham on Saturday and are back in London next Tuesday to play their game in hand against Tottenham. They conclude with a home game against West Ham, after which Guardiola will hope to lift a fourth successive Premier League title and a sixth overall since moving to Manchester in 2016.

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“We wanted to replicate it [the treble],” City captain Kyle Walker told TNT Sport ahead of the Fulham game. “Was it a realistic goal? Probably not because to go and do a treble, not many teams do it. To then go and do it back-to-back would have been something special.

“At the start of the season, you look back and think where’s your motivation going to come from. After completing such a high of what we did last season, you need to find something again.

“A lot of the lads, we spoke, and said, ‘why don’t we try and do it again?’ It wasn’t to be but to have four Premier Leagues in a row would be something special, and the FA Cup, it would still be a double. Off the back of winning the [UEFA] Super Cup, [FIFA] Club World Cup, plus these two. We’re hopeful. The destiny is in our hands, so hopefully we can go and do it.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail in April, Phil Foden revealed a slogan adorning the Manchester City dressing room wall this season that handily answers the question.

“Every time we put our boots on at Manchester City’s training ground, that saying is on the wall. It says: ‘Nobody has won four Premier League trophies in a row… yet’. 

“We want to put ourselves in history. Every day, I look at that slogan and I think: ‘Why not?'”

Why not, indeed? Four in a row would be a historic feat for City, and not just in the context of the Premier League era.

Going back to the inaugural Division One season in 1888/89, no team has ever won four English top-flight titles in a row. Guardiola’s men equalled the record when they completed their first three-peat a year ago.

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The first team in English history to win three first division titles in a row were Huddersfield Town, with the club’s back-to-back successes between 1924 and 1926 remaining their only league championships.

Huddersfield pipped Cardiff City on goal average to snatch glory in 1923/24 and launch their imperial period. They also finished second in both 1926/27 and 1927/28, by which point another dynasty was plotting a route to glory.

Pioneering manager Herbert Chapman left Huddersfield after the 1924/25 triumph as Arsenal doubled his salary. The Yorkshireman’s role in building the north London club into a major force means he remains recognised as a transformative figure in 20th-century English football.

After leading the Gunners to their maiden title in 1930/31, they regained the crown in 1932/33 having finished second behind Everton the previous season. That would be Chapman’s final full season in charge as he tragically died of pneumonia midway through the 1933/34 campaign. George Allison stepped in to keep Arsenal on course as they retained the title before making it three in a row.

It was almost half a century before another three-peat. Despite finishing either first or second in 18 out of 19 seasons between 1972/73 and 1990/91, Liverpool only won three in a row once. The great Bob Paisley claimed his fifth and six titles — a mark Guardiola is attempting to match — in 1981/82 and 1982/83. He was replaced by fellow Anfield boom room graduate Joe Fagan, who kept Liverpool’s dominance on track before Everton took the title to the other side of Stanley Park in 1984/85.

Unsurprisingly, the two examples of three in a row from the Premier League era prior to City belong to Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, who became the first coach to win three league titles in succession, given Huddersfield, Arsenal and Liverpool all changed managers during their hot streaks.

United’s first run of three began with their treble season of 1998/99, while the powerhouse fuelled by Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo reigned between 2007 and 2009. The latter side came closest to going four in a row as they finished a point behind Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009/10 — a near-miss made all the more galling by Didier Drogba’s controversial offside goal when the Blues won 2-0 at Old Trafford during the season run-in.

In a little over a week, City will know which side of such fine margins they reside on in their bid for greatness.

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