Premier League: Manchester City’s road to top

City was consistent throughout the season, but it did a bulk of its work in the first half. It garnered 52 points from the first 19 matches and took such a substantial lead (11 points) to go with a healthy goal difference (+44 to +27 of United).

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Fabian Delph, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Leroy Sane of Manchester City celebrate with the Premier League Trophy at the Etihad Stadium.   -  Getty Images

Manchester City’s third Premier League title was a reward for strong ethics and a great team spirit under an intense leader like Pep Guardiola. Even the investments, in the transfer window, have been spot on; Ederson, as goalkeeper, and Aymeric Laporte as centre back were impressive.

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City dominated the Premier League the same way Chelsea did in 2016-17, securing the title with five matches to spare. It also scored 106 goals — the most in the season — and conceded only 27 goals — the least among the teams.

Here are a few moments that turned City into a champion side.

The controversial 97th-minute winner

Raheem Sterling’s stoppage-time winner against Bournemouth on was the first of his many rescue acts in the season. His 97th-minute goal came under controversial circumstances — the fourth official had signalled only a ‘minimum’ of five minutes at the end of 90’ but play was allowed to go on for three more minutes — and this victory was the first among the 18 wins on the trot.

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The Anfield stalemate

Manchester United and its derby rival went into matchday eight level on points (19) and were facing Liverpool (away) and Stoke City (home) respectively. Jose Mourinho’s pragmatic approach could secure only a point for United. City beat Stoke 7-2 hours after United had drawn against Liverpool and started to take control of the league. United lost away to Huddersfield Town on the subsequent matchday to fall five points behind.

The decisive derby

United hosted City in the first Manchester derby of the season in December, knowing fully well that it needed to win to remain in the title race. It was already eight points behind and though 22 more matches were remaining after the derby, Mourinho and United knew that the uncontrollable City will be difficult to stop if it gained an 11-point lead.

Paul Pogba missed this fixture through a three-match suspension for a stamp on Hector Bellerin in United’s previous match against Arsenal.

City won 2-1 at Old Trafford, beating United at its own game, and struck a decisive blow in the Premier League title race that felt like it was over as early as in the second week of December.

Nicolas Otamendi gestures to the crowd after scoring the winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford in December.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Another way to run a marathon

The league competitions are often compared with marathons to stress on the consistency needed to finish top.

Manchester City players throw manager Pep Guardiola in the air after laying their hands on the Premier League trophy.   -  AP

 

City was consistent throughout the season, but it did a bulk of its work in the first half. It garnered 52 points from the first 19 matches and took a substantial lead (11 points) to go with a healthy goal difference (+44 to +27 of United). It didn’t really have to be as prolific in the second half to win the title.

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