Manchester City are Premier League Champions - the story of the season
The story of an incredible and historic season in Manchester City's history.
Manchester City's status as 20/21 champions of the Premier League was confirmed on Tuesday night when Manchester United suffered a 2-1 home loss to Leicester. Our tally of 80 points to United's 70 is now unassailable and this title win is their third in four seasons, a remarkable feat. Despite the battle against adversity throughout the season, City have been able to win with remarkable consistency since the turn of the year and their twenty-one-game win streak propelled them to another famous title win. Here I take a look at ten of the defining fixtures, including the debut of Ruben Dias, the loss at Tottenham that left City in fourteenth, and the famous win at Anfield that made the blues' title intentions clear to the rest of the league.
(3/10/20) Leeds 1-1 Man City - the debut of Ruben Dias
Despite haggling with Napoli over a potential signing of Kalidou Koulibaly throughout the summer, a 5-2 home loss to Leicester City in their second game of the season had City scampering the market, desperate to sign a new centre-back ready for their next league game the following week. The Blues were rumoured to be in the running for numerous names, including Jules Kounde, but City signed Portugal defender and Benfica captain Ruben Dias for an estimated £71m fee with the Portuguese club signing Nicolas Otamendi for £15m as part of the deal. Ruben made his debut the weekend after signing, a draw at Elland Road against Leeds United. It wasn't the dream debut result for the defender however the early signs were positive. It would prove to be a signing that completely changed Manchester City's hopes for the season.
Ruben Dias' £71m signing from Benfica brought a mixed reaction from the fanbase but it would prove to be one of the most important signings in the club's recent history.
(21/11/20) Tottenham 2-0 Man City - Spurs go top, City sink to fourteenth
Manchester City were already stuttering in their bid to regain the Premier League title when they headed to the Capital to face Tottenham, who with a victory had the chance to go top of the league. An early error from Aymeric Laporte allowed Heung-Min Son to finish after five minutes and despite positive signs in the game including a disallowed Laporte equaliser just before half-time, it was Spurs who found the second goal to compound City into tenth place. Guardiola's men looked lacklustre, sluggish and they were sleepwalking into a top-four battle.
(15/12/20) Man City 1-1 West Bromwich Albion - Blues slip further adrift in their title pursuit
An away draw against bitter rivals Manchester United the weekend before this fixture brought heavy criticism on Pep Guardiola as City drifted further away in their faltering season and a home draw to relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion further added doubt as to whether City had the quality and the desire to go again and regain their Premier League crown. Fernandinho, City's captain, called an inquest into the dressing room post-match as he questioned City's players on their effort levels as Fernandinho and Guardiola called on the Blues to find their identity again. It proved to be the turning point in the season, with new tactics and an increase in effort and desire turning City into a winning machine in the weeks to come. Pep Guardiola also admitted that after the game against West Brom, he didn't like the way his side played anymore and that returning to basics has been key to the Blues' renaissance since.
"The day after the 1-1, we could have won but after the game, I went to myself, my staff/friends and said 'I don’t like the team, I don’t like the way we play'. It doesn’t matter the results, I don’t like it, I don’t recognise my team the way we should play." - Pep Guardiola speaking on how he felt after his side drew with West Brom in December.
(19/12/20) Southampton 0-1 Man City
Following a dressing room inquest, Manchester City travelled to the South Coast to take on Southampton in front of 2,000 fans for the first time in over nine months. Despite there being no away fans in attendance, the Blues responded to the crowd and with a tactical tweak, accompanied by the return of Bernardo Silva's form, City ground out a 1-0 win against an in-form Southampton team that seemed to give the blues their confidence back.
(3/1/21) Chelsea 1-3 Man City
After consecutive Premier League wins, City headed South to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea looked to be a tough test on paper, especially with Guardiola and the team dealing with outside adversity and player quarantines due to COVID-19. Playing a false-nine system that would become a dominant topic throughout the season, City put the lights out at the Bridge in the most scintillating display city fans had seen in a long, long time before that day. 3-0 up at half-time, the blues looked truly like themselves again. The away game at Chelsea in 17/18 buoyed the Blues to make them believe they could be Champions again, and this win seemed to have the same effect. It was a performance that convinced Pep Guardiola that the false-nine was the way forward and it has proved to be a system that has brought huge success ever since.
Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester City were at their marvellous best in a breathtaking display against Chelsea as they began to climb up the Premier League table.
(20/1/21) Man City 2-0 Aston Villa - Bernardo and Gundogan secure vital win in title pursuit
On a night where City were aiming to keep the pace at the top of the Premier League, the blues were struggling against a well-drilled and dogged Aston Villa side. Chances after chances, City were persistent and finally broke the deadlock - Rodri controversially came from an offside position to steal the ball from Tyrone Mings and then Bernardo Silva fired in a venomous strike past Martinez to cause bedlam amongst the players. The celebrations said it all, that was a huge three points that kept City climbing up the table. Ilkay Gundogan added a second with a 90th-minute penalty that kept the German in red-hot form.
(7/2/21) Liverpool 1-4 Man City - City explode to tear apart Klopp's Reds
The hosts crippled by injuries. The visitors in electric form. City fans knew that this was their side’s best hope of breaking the Anfield curse. Despite missing talisman Kevin De Bruyne, the blues emphatically demolished Klopp’s side in a statement win that caused shockwaves in the Premier League. Ilkay Gündogan, now finding himself as City’s lead marksman, hit two goals whilst also missing a first-half penalty, whilst Raheem Sterling tapped in from a Bernardo Silva chip over the 'keeper and Phil Foden emphatically blasted one past Alisson. Statements of intent don’t come more clear than a win, like that, away in a stadium you haven’t won in for 17 years prior. City's confidence was sky-high, and they were starting to look unstoppable.
Phil Foden made his case with a superbly taken finish into the roof of Alisson's goal, minutes after stealing the ball off Jordan Henderson to set up Raheem Sterling's goal to make it 3-1. The young talent made the difference and made his case to be in the team week-in, week-out.
(13/2/21) Man City 3-0 Tottenham - Ilkay Gundogan makes his PFA POTY case
Manchester City continued their ruthless hunt for the Premier League crown with a demolition job over Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in a dress rehearsal of the upcoming Carabao Cup final, which had been rescheduled for April to welcome the safe return of fans. After a Rodri penalty, won by Ilkay Gundogan, was converted beyond Hugo Lloris to give City a 1-0 half-time lead, the Blues blitzed the London club with a quick-fire Ilkay Gundogan double to put the game beyond doubt. The win sent City seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and extending their winning run to fifteen games as Pep's men continued to ruthlessly take apart anyone in their way. Ilkay Gundogan added his eighth and ninth Premier League goals of 2021 as he continued to make his case for the PFA Player of the Year award.
(27/2/21) Man City 2-1 West Ham - Blues overcome Hammers as Ruben Dias and John Stones fire Blues to 20th successive win
Manchester City faced West Ham in the Premier League's lunchtime kick-off of the weekend as the Blues looked to extend their winning run to twenty matches in all competitions. Moyes' West Ham were in a top-four hunt of their own and gave City a tough run for their money, although two goals - a header by Ruben Dias from an excellent De Bruyne cross, and a tidy finish from John Stones sandwiched a Michail Antonio equaliser as the blues ground out another victory as they edged ever closer to a third Premier League title in four seasons. City's centre-back pairing had been the best in Europe and had been praised for their influence at the defensive end of the pitch, but it was the pair of them that popped up as unlikely scorers as City secured the win.
Ruben Dias netted his first-ever Manchester City goal to make it 1-0 as the Blues secured their twentieth victory in a row. John Stones calmly converted past Darren Randolph to win the game in the second half after Michail Antonio had initially levelled minutes before the break.
(1/5/21) - Crystal Palace 0-2 Man City Sergio rolls back the years to put City on the cusp of Premier League glory as Blues hit Palace with quick-fire double
Manchester City travelled to Crystal Palace knowing that if they won and Manchester United lost to Liverpool the Blues would be crowned Champions and they took care of business with two quick-fire second-half goals. Sergio Aguero fired in emphatically at the near-post in classic Aguero fashion to give the Blues the lead before Ferran Torres, only 86 seconds later, added a second with a controlled finish into the bottom corner to double the lead and take the game from Palace.
United's loss to Leicester crowned Manchester City as Premier League Champions for 2020/21. In a season of challenges and adversity like never seen before, the Blues proved to the world how special this side truly is. This might be the most impressive win under Guardiola considering the circumstances, and it's one to truly celebrate. What a group, what a manager, what a club.