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'Winning machine': City make history thanks to Pep and 'unbelievable' Foden - but questions remain over charges

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19th May, 2024
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Manchester City won an unprecedented fourth straight English league title on Monday (AEST) edging Arsenal by two points as both won on the final day of the Premier League season.

Pep Guardiola’s City played the entire season under the spectre of 115 Premier League charges for financial irregularity and while celebrated in Manchester their historic title win was greeted by cynicism by the wider football public. They have now claimed six out of the past seven titles.

“Pep Guardiola has designed a style of football that is being copied not just around this country, but all around Europe,” said former Manchester United star Gary Neville on Sky Sports.

“Most of all he is a winning machine that instils that in everybody who works with him.”

The final day began with Arsenal needing to beat Everton and City having to drop points at home to West Ham for the Gunners to win the title.

Arsenal scored a nervy late 2-1 win over Everton but the day lacked real drama early on as Phil Foden scored for City inside the opening two minutes.

Foden scored a second and although Mohammed Kudus cut the gap to 2-1 with a stunning bicycle kick finish near half time, City scored again through Rodri on 59 minutes and saw out the game, the only hiccup coming when West Ham thought they’d scored a second only to have the goal ruled out by VAR.

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In London, Arsenal went 1-0 down to a deflected freekick from Idrissa Gueye but equalised before halftime through Takehiro Tomiyasu. Kai Havertz added a winner minutes from the end but it was mere consolation. Havertz and several teammates were left teary at the finish.

Arsenal produced their best points tally since their last title win – 20 years earlier – and the most wins ever in a season. After back to back losses at Christmas they lost just once and drew once – to City – with 15 wins in 2024.

However, City completed a staggering run of 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa on 6 December.

Arsenal’s only loss in 2024, to Aston Villa and their former manager Unai Emery a month ago, will loom as a key moment in the title challenge against a formidable City team, who often had teams beaten before kick off. In contrast Emery rested his best players in their clash with City to protect them for European action.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta promised improvement next season.

“All this is happening because you started believing, you started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do. All the credit has to go to the players and the staff,” he told the fans.

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“Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it.”

In Manchester, the freshly capped Premier League player of the year Foden, got his team off to a flyer with a fabulous long range strike.

“It is ridiculous and unbelievable! It makes it sweeter that someone homegrown is a big part of it,” said former City defender Micah Richards on Sky Sport.

“Phil Foden has become the main man of this team. What Pep has created is unbelievable.”

“Unbelievable” is also a word being bandied around by City’s critics today – many cynical of their dominance of the game under the cloud of the 115 charges. Plenty noted that the Premier League’s CEO Richard Masters opted to attend the Arsenal game rather than be on hand to present City with the trophy.

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Liverpool has suffered most at the hands of the City juggernaut and they farewelled manager Jurgen Klopp after his one title in nine seasons battling with Guardiola.

The Reds beat Wolves 2-0 on an emotional day for Klopp.

Nelson Semedo’s first-half red card opened the door for Liverpool to capitalise as Alexis Mac Allister struck first after 35 minutes.

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Jarell Quansah doubled the hosts’ lead soon after in the opening 45 minutes as Liverpool eased to a final-day victory, with this defeat ensuring Gary O’Neil’s Wolves end the season 14th in the table.

Goals from Moises Caicedo and Raheem Sterling secured a 2-1 victory for Chelsea over Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge, to secure European football next season.

Chelsea went into the final game knowing a win would secure at least a Europa Conference League spot, and Caicedo put them on course for three points in the first half with a stunning long-range finish.

Sterling then fired home after the interval to put Mauricio Pochettino’s men firmly into the ascendancy, and though a Benoit Badiashile own-goal gave the Cherries hope, Chelsea saw out the victory.

The win means the hosts finish the campaign in sixth, and if Manchester City beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final next weekend, Chelsea will play in the Europa League next season.

Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham fished in fifth with Aston Villa in fourth. At the bottom, Luton joined Burnley and Sheffield United as relegated teams with Nottingham Forest avoiding the drop thanks to Luton’s defeat and their own win over Burnley.

Manchester United ended the season with a 2-0 win at Brighton but finished eighth – their worst ever placing in Premier League history.

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