TITLE TIMELINE: How Manchester City won the Premier League title
Manchester City have won the Premier League title with three games to spare but it wasn’t always easy so we look at their season timeline.
Manchester United’s defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday night handed Manchester City their fifth Premier League title. The Citizens have seemingly had it done and dusted for a while so it’s easy to forget that this season wasn’t completely plain sailing.
21st September: Having started the season slightly later than most due to being in the quarter finals of the re-scheduled Champions League last summer, they looked impressive in sweeping Wolves away at Molineux 3-1 in their opening fixture but a painful defeat was just around the corner.
27th September: Leicester City, particularly Jamie Vardy, exposed Manchester City’s vulnerability on the counter-attack by winning 5-2 at the Etihad. It was this defeat that prompted Guardiola to address the defensive issues that had seen them fall way short of Liverpool in 2019/20 by signing Ruben Dias for £61 million.
Rock at the back
17th October: The influence of Dias was immediate as the centre-back signed from Benfica made his league debut at home to an in-form Arsenal and marshalled the team to a solid 1-0 victory. Overall, he has helped the team to 16 clean sheets in 28 games and is one of the favourites to be player of the year.
The win over Arsenal left them 6 points off the top of the league and in 9th place but things were about to get even more tricky.
Despite Dias tightening up the defence, City’s form was still patchy to say the least. They were fortunate to escape from an away trip to West Ham United with a 1-1 draw and were also held at home to Liverpool after Kyle Walker gave away a clumsy spot-kick to the Anfield side.
21st November: This was a season low point. Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur did a tactical job on Guardiola’s men by allowing them to have the ball and defending resolutely before hitting City on the counter-attack. Goals from Son Heung-Min and Giovani Lo Celso gave Spurs a 2-0 win that took them to the top of the league, 8 points clear of Manchester City who were in 11th.
Another set back
28th November: There was a feeling City may have been back to their best when they thumped Burnley 5-0 with Riyad Mahrez scoring an impressive hat-trick but there was to be more set-back.
15th December: City were incredibly strong favourites when they hosted West Bromwich Albion and took an early lead through Ilkay Gundogan but that wasn’t to last as West Brom’s first attack resulted in a goal when Semi Ajayi’s shot deflected in off Dias. City wasted a host of late second half chances and Guardiola was left frustrated with the 1-1 draw saying ‘you have to win this kind of game’ as City sat in 6th place, 5 points off the top.
City eventually found their stride over Christmas, edging out Southampton and Newcastle United before producing a performance out of nowhere.
3rd January: They arrived at Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea with many fancying a win for the home side. But within 34 minutes, people were sitting up and taking notice of City as Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne scored to give the visitors a 3-1 victory, moving City into 5th place and just 4 points off the top with a game in hand.
City were to go on to make it 15 league wins in a row and it was this run that put the title in no doubt.
Within that run were the demolitions of West Brom and Crystal Palace, 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. The ultimate performance though was saved for a ground where City had not won since 2003.
7th February: Liverpool 1-4 Manchester City. A ground on which City have struggled so badly and where Guardiola has suffered some of his most painful defeats finally resulted in some positive memories. Three goals in ten minutes gave City a 10 point cushion over the 2020 champions and a 5 point lead over second placed Manchester United.
13th February: This was followed up with revenge on Mourinho’s Tottenham as City swept aside Spurs 3-0 with Ilkay Gundogan in the hottest goal scoring form of his career. A brace made it 11 goals in 12 games for him and increased City’s lead to 7 points.
Legend seals it
There were still to be a few slip-ups with home defeats by Manchester United, Leeds United and Chelsea keeping the champagne on ice for a few more weeks but it was all academic.
1st May: Sergio Aguero was not going to let his final year at City be without note, even if he has found starts to come by. The Argentine produced a typically instinctive finish to break the deadlock away at Crystal Palace and Ferran Torres doubled the lead to give City a 2-0 lead and all-but seal the title.
United’s defeat to Leicester City confirmed on the 11th May confirmed a fifth Premier League title in 10 years and City will now hope to make it a historic treble when they play in the UEFA Champions League Final against Chelsea on the 29th May.
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