Man City's Premier League win may be Guardiola's sweetest yet after epic Liverpool battle


All titles and trophies come with satisfaction guaranteed but when the glitter and fireworks settle, this one will be particularly sweet for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Any title against a team in Liverpool which, had they come together in any other era might have been celebrating a third title in four seasons themselves, brings added value.

And there will be more still from the manner, doing it the hard way combining dazzle with grit and confounding those who insisted it would not be done without a recognised striker.

The unsuccessful pursuit of Harry Kane, and then Cristiano Ronaldo, last season as well a summer injury to Kevin De Bruyne which he carried into the season, saw City limping before the campaign started.

And by their standards it was a poor start. Defeat to Leicester City in the Community Shield was followed by an opening day loss against Spurs. Draws followed against Southampton and Liverpool and a loss to Crystal Palace at home.

It was not until they beat Watford on December 4 that Guardiola’s men clambered to the top of the table. Since then they have stayed there, barring a couple of nights in April when Liverpool played first, ever since.

Watford was the fifth match of a run of 12 successive wins to January 15 which saw City top at Christmas and top at New Year. In contrast Liverpool wobbled over the festive period dropping seven points in three games – against Spurs, Leicester and Chelsea.

It was a stutter than saw City were 14 points clear in mid-January. Guardiola had dismissed the lead as “fake” given Liverpool had games in hand and he was right as Liverpool charged from January onwards reeling off 10 wins on the trot. City had helped them close the gap to a point by the time they rocked up at the Etihad on April 10 with the title in the balance and everything on the line.

City dominated that exhilarating match early and could have been out of sight at half-time, but twice blew the lead as Jurgen Klopp’s fought back to earn a 2-2 draw. Both City and Liverpool dropped two points – to West Ham and Spurs, respectively, as the season entered its final week and injuries and Champions League efforts took their toll.

Yet City’s grit in coming back from 2-0 down to draw against the Hammers was decisive. That point ensured Liverpool needed at least the same at St Mary’s to take the title race to the final day of the season, which they did.

And City fans may have been fearing the worst when 2-0 down at home to Aston Villa, knowing Liverpool were a goal from leapfrogging them into top spot. But three goals in five minutes at the Etihad means a fourth title in five years. In truth it has been a real battle for the Citizens and their success has been all the more satisfying for it.


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