Manchester City’s dominance in England continued on Tuesday (May 11) as Manchester United’s defeat to Leicester City confirmed the Blues as Premier League champions for the third time in four years.
Manchester City Champions as United Defeated
City Take Premier League Trophy Back From Liverpool
Aside from Liverpool’s title triumph just over 12 months ago, Manchester City have arguably been the number one team in England. Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, and Manuel Pellegrini before him, the Blue side of Manchester have become a dominant force.
City’s fine form this season – losing just five times, including an opening day 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City – put Guardiola’s side within touching distance of a third Premier League title in four years.
They had the chance to wrap up the title themselves on Saturday, but a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea meant the wait was prolonged.
Eventually, it was United’s defeat to Leicester, however, that ensured the trophy would be making the short trip from Liverpool to Manchester this month.
The result on Tuesday (May 11) put City ten points ahead of second-placed United, who have just three games left.
Whilst City have been the firm favourites this season, and have proven their worth for nearly all of the campaign, boss Guardiola believes this year’s championship victory was the “hardest one.”
He told BBC Sport: “This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other.
“This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players.
“They are so special. To come through this season, with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve faced – and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless.
“Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.
“I have been in Spain, I have been in Germany and I can say this is the toughest league, I would say by far. So it means a lot to everyone.”
City Make It Count in Difficult Fixtures
When it was needed Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side showed the grit and determination needed of champions in order to pick up important results.
Despite early season defeats to Leicester and Tottenham Hotspur – a result which sent Spurs top of the Premier League – the Blues then went on an excellent run of 22 wins from 27 games, including 11 successive away league wins.
City put history behind them to defeat Liverpool at Anfield in the league for the first time since 2003, cruising to a 4-1 victory. When City’s run to the title faced hurdles – such as a 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United – they bounced back with confidence, beating Southampton 5-2.
Guardiola’s Role Pivotal in City Success
It was not so long ago that some figures were suggesting time was up for Guardiola.
The Spaniard repeatedly insisted that he had no intention to leave City, but did admit that the expectations he faced meant that he would always be up against challenges.
Despite the challenges, such as having no out-and-out striker, Guardiola continued to impress, signed a new contract and could even bring the Champions League trophy to the Etihad Stadium.
Instead of having one individual that is wholly reliant on providing the goals, a responsibility that has fallen on the departing Sergio Aguero in recent season, City’s strike rate has been shared amongst the squad.
Ilkay Gundogan (16), Phil Foden (14), Riyad Mahrez (14), Raheem Sterling (14) and Gabriel Jesus (13) have all contributed to City’s current total of 72 goals.
This impressive sharing of goals has allowed Guardiola to continually experiment with his starting eleven. Just once from 57 matches in all competitions has Guardiola named an unchanged line-up, highlighting his desire to mix things up regularly.
Whilst these changes could be down to injuries and the need to rest players, it also highlights the talent that City have in abundance that – even when changing the starting squad – they can still perform to such a high level.