Review and Player Ratings as City coronated for third successive year – Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea
Updated: May 22
It may not have been the champions we're used to seeing at the Etihad Stadium, but every single one of them are champions within their own right, and they put on a display worthy of three points today as Phil Foden assisted Julian Alvarez for the only goal of the game before Manchester City lifted their third Premier League title in a row.
Pep Guardiola, who has now three-peated the domestic leagues in England, Germany and Spain, made nine changes to the starting XI that obliterated Real Madrid midweek as they booked their spot in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10th.
Only Manuel Akanji and Kyle Walker retained their spots on the teamsheet, with the latter captaining the champions of England on the day.
Former City player Raheem Sterling and his new teammates at Chelsea gave the Blues a guard of honour ahead of kick-off, with Kalvin Phillips receiving his first Premier League start for City on the same day he was presented with his first Premier League winners medal.
It was a day to party for the seven-time Premier League winners as Ederson and Aymeric Laporte turned up with their hair dyed blue, with the commentators noting that Guardiola must have tried hard to resist the urge to do the same as his two players.
People have made the argument this season that this is City's thinnest squad under Guardiola in terms of the quality available outside of the usual starting XI. But the 11 City players out on that pitch must have been out to prove a point because the football they were playing was worthy of the champions.
A lapse in concentration from Frank Lampard's Chelsea presented Foden with the opportunity to slip World Cup and Premier League winner Alvarez through on goal, who made sure there was no drop in quality in the absence of Premier League record goalscorer Erling Haaland.
The Argentine's finish was incredibly similar to his finish on Wednesday as he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga's net to score City's first goal since being named as the 22/23 Premier League champions.
The three City academy graduates, Foden, Rico Lewis and Cole Palmer, combined excellently well as the latter tried to double the hosts' advantage, but his effort was blocked two yards off the line.
Foden nearly turned creator into scorer as he tried a delicious lob after he brilliantly brought down Phillips' over-the-top ball, but his attempted chip curled just wide of the mark.
Sterling wanted to get in on the action like he did so many times at the Etihad Stadium, but it was Stefan Ortega who denied him this time with a fabulous save whilst doing the splits.
Lewis Hall nearly levelled the scoreline with a powerful header, but it rattled the post and bounced off Ortega's leg to safety.
Phillips nearly scored a remarkable header on his first start in the league for his new club as he hit the same post as Hall did in the first half.
Sterling once again wanted to remind everyone of why he felt he deserved more game time, as he nearly had the ball in the back of the net if not for a goal-line clearance by second-half substitute John Stones. The England winger was ruled offside, but replays suggested it would have been a close decision had VAR had to get involved.
The four-time Premier League champion made way to a round of applause from the City faithful as they were keen to recognise his contribution to the club during his time in Manchester.
Alvarez thought he had his second of the evening after tapping into an empty net from six yards out, but it was ruled out due to a handball by Riyad Mahrez in the build-up to the goal.
Moments later, the 23-year-old provided Haaland, who had just entered the action, with an opportunity for his 37th Premier League goal, but the Norwegian dragged it just wide, and the oncoming Lewis couldn't quite reach it.
It's as if it was a sort of lap of honour in the final 15 minutes as the next names brought on were Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne.
Cesar Azpilicueta looked to have dampened the champions' party as he was picked out at the back post, but Foden superbly blocked what would have been a certain sliding goal by the Spanish wing-back.
The game had a weird feeling to it, with Guardiola's side and their fans seeming like they just wanted the 90 minutes to be done and to be handed the title once more, whilst Chelsea looked deflated and like they wanted their entire season to be over.
In what has been an incredibly long season – that is still nowhere near finished for City – where they looked for sure to be out of the title race earlier in the campaign; after receiving a lot of criticism for selling Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Mikel Arteta's Arsenal, after being told they were an ageing squad that no longer had the desire to win trophies – the final whistle dawned on their final game at the Etihad Stadium this season, and once the fans were finally removed after the pitch invasion, City finally had their hands on the Premier League trophy once again as continue their domination of English football.
Man of the Match
Some people may not agree with this, which is fine, but I want to award Phillips as the Man of the Match. The Englishman has had perhaps the most difficult first season under Guardiola as any City player has had. The Catalan has voiced his concerns over the 27-year-old, and fans have done the same.
But we saw a few weeks ago just how excited he was to come on in the 90th minute, and today he was handed his first Premier League start of the campaign, and he performed excellently – a lot better than most people would have been expecting. So that in itself is an encouraging sign for next season. He was extremely unlucky to not score his first goal for City as well, with only the woodwork denying him.
Ortega - 8
Walker - 7
Akanji - 7
Laporte - 7
Gomez - 6.5
Phillips - 8
Lewis - 7.5
Mahrez - 6.5
Foden - 8
Palmer - 8
Alvarez - 8.5
Substitutes: Stones - 7, Haaland - 6, Rodri - 6, De Bruyne - 6
Written by: @DanGP17_
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