Thanks to their title rivals Arsenal losing to Nottingham Forest 1-0 at the City Ground on Saturday, Manchester City have clinched the Premier League title, their third in a row and fifth in the last six seasons. A goal from Taiwo Awoniyi in the 19th minute was enough for the Tricky Trees to secure their victory as they held on against Arsenal’s pressure late. This result means City can start celebrating the triumph the day before they play Chelsea.
Led by Norwegian striker Erling Haaland’s 36 Premier League goals and seven assists, City were able to win the league with 85 points from 35 matches. Now, City will get to collect their Premier League trophy Sunday in front of their home fans at the Etihad Stadium.
This isn’t a title that was always guaranteed as Arsenal were in the pole position of the league for most of the season but a 14-match unbeaten streak after losing to Tottenham on Feb. 5 was enough to overturn their points deficit and win the league. This is dynasty-level stuff from City but while focus has been on Haaland, he’s far from the only reason that this team has been so good in the Premier League.
Depth has played a major role as everyone from 18-year-old Rico Lewis to backup keeper Stefan Ortega have played a part as Pep Guardiola has left no stone unturned to make sure that his team won the title. Even shipping out Joao Cancelo to Bayern Munich in January wasn’t enough to stop City’s form. Formation shifts and breakthrough seasons for Jack Grealish and Nathan Ake have been enough to ensure that the title stays in Manchester.
Now, the focus shifts to winning a treble as Guardiola’s men will face Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3 and Inter in the Champions League final on June 10.
With the win over Arsenal on Saturday, Nottingham Forest also clinched Premier League safety.
Here’s what to know about City’s triumph:
A team effort
With how much the team rotates, it’s impossible to pick out who the most impactful player has been for City in their march toward the title this season. In attack, seven players have five or more Premier League assists while seven players have also scored more than five goals in the league as well. Haaland deserves plenty of credit for setting the new Premier League goal-scoring record for goals in a 38-match season, passing Mohamed Salah’s 32 goals, but it’s down to the team that made Haaland so dangerous.
On any day, even if Haaland wasn’t firing, Guardiola had plenty of ways to pull out victories. The defense helped give the attack margin for error only conceding 31 goals in 35 matches as City racked up a goal difference of 61 during the season. This may not have been City’s highest points total in a title-winning season (that’s 100 points by the 2017-18 side) but it’s one of the most potent teams that Guardiola has coached.
Never afraid to make a change
Cancelo was a major part of past title-winning sides for Guardiola but when the team needed to shake things up in January, he exited stage left for Bayern Munich. Since that point, City’s form picked up as Guardiola compensated for a lack of wing backs by shifting to a 3-2-4-1 formation that was flexible in defense. John Stones and Kyle Walker shared inverted fullback duties while Grealish and Bernardo Silva turned into workhorses on the wing to keep the team pushing forward.
Not many teams are able to reinvent themselves on the fly but that’s just what City did. That flexibility is also one of the reasons why this team could be Guardiola’s first City side to win the Champions League.
A worthy adversary
While Guardiola had to create his own competition with former assistant manager Mikel Arteta, who was using former City players Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko as keys to Arsenal’s build up, the Gunners pushed City as far as they could. Arsenal led the Premier League for 248 days, the most ever for a team that has failed to win the Premier League title. But when City defeated Arsenal 4-1 on April 26, that was enough to break Arsenal’s resolve and ensure that the title would stay in Manchester.