104 is the magic number as Manchester City set a new Premier League record

If anybody needed more evidence that Manchester City are starting to hit the required heights at exactly the right time, after Arsenal and Liverpool slipped up on Sunday, then perhaps the precise manner of their 5-1 victory against Luton provides it.

A grand total of 37 shots, 74 percent possession and 4.64 expected goals is one thing, but then there is this: City registered 104 touches in the Luton penalty area, the most since Opta started keeping count.

And considering they started counting this particular metric 21 years ago, it stands out as a particularly impressive milestone for a team that has broken all sorts of records during the Pep Guardiola era.

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(Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

City had more touches in the opposition box than Aston Villa, Wolves, Sheffield United, Brentford, Crystal Palace and opponents Luton combined this weekend.

It is yet another way of explaining the domination that City can achieve in matches, but looking at those touches themselves also tells us quite a lot about who is contributing what in attack.

Who touched the ball in the Luton box?

Firstly, it is obvious that City’s chief protagonist on the day, as he was earlier this season in particular, was Jeremy Doku.

jeremy doku man city 5

Inside the box he had 23 touches, three crosses, one assist, one goal and four take-ons, which is half of City’s total of take-ons inside the area. One of those led to the penalty which Erling Haaland duly scored.

Haaland himself had the joint most touches inside the box, alongside Kevin De Bruyne. Their particular contributions explain their very different roles perfectly, however: De Bruyne had four ‘ball touches’ and six passes, but what is most stark about his own touch map is that, in contrast to players like Doku, basically everything De Bruyne did was passing in a 20-yard zone outside the penalty area.

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Half of Haaland’s 10 touches inside the box, in contrast, were shots, including his successful penalty.

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City had 26 shots from inside the box in total, as well as 44 passes. Doku contributed 10 of those, the most, with Julian Alvarez making nine and Matheus Nunes and Rico Lewis contributing six each.

Nunes generally took up deeper positions — that Joao Cancelo position tucked in on the right-hand side, too deep to mark but close enough to do damage — but did make several runs behind the defence which led to dangerous crosses and a shot.

Man City Luton all shots

Lewis cropped up in several different areas, starting initially as a right-back. Sometimes he was up the wing as a traditional full-back, sometimes he popped up in the middle like an inverted full-back, and often, as demonstrated by his passes in — and 13 passes in central areas around — the opposition’s box.

City’s penalty box actions

Activity Total





Bad touches


Take ons










City also made two tackles inside the area, the first from Mateo Kovacic in the sixth minute as he pounced on a loose ball, which fell to Haaland who then had a touch before being tackled. The other came from Oscar Bobb in injury time; the Norwegian 20-year-old has impressed with his work off the ball and he took advantage here after Julian Alvarez had applied the pressure.

Bobb then dribbled past his man, another area of his game that has stood out, and when his cross was deflected, Alvarez had a shot which was blocked, before Kovacic took another as City tried to add another goal with 92 minutes on the clock.

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It was an onslaught from start to finish with everybody playing their part, in their own different ways. The only team to record 100 points in a single Premier League season are now the only team to register 100 or more touches in an opposition penalty area.

(Header photo: by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

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