Pep’s toughest title: Man City boss hails his incredible Premier League champions
City pip Liverpool by a point on the final day of the season
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Manchester City 4
Manchester City retained their Premier League title to become the first club to win back-to-back crowns since Manchester United in 2009.
The Sky Blues came from behind at Brighton to ease to a 4-1 victory on Sunday, making Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat of Wolves at Anfield immaterial.
“It’s the toughest title we have won in all my career, by far,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, whose side finished on 98 points, one more than their rivals.
“We have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you so much, they pushed us to increase our standards.
“It’s incredible, 98 points, to go back-to-back. We made the standard higher last season and Liverpool helped us.”
City set up treble bid
Brighton gave Liverpool fans hope of a stunning climax to what has been the most memorable title race in years when Glenn Murray headed the hosts in front on 27 minutes.
But it took City all of a minute to respond, with Sergio Aguero firing them level for his 21st league goal of the season.
Ten minutes later Aymeric Laporte headed the Sky Blues in front and then spectacular strikes in the second half from Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan sealed the emphatic victory.
It was the champions’ 14th successive league victory, their 32nd in all, equalling the record they set last season.
The success also keeps City on course for an unprecedented domestic treble, with only Watford standing between them and FA Cup glory on Saturday.
Liverpool duo strike gold
One accolade that did elude City was the Golden Boot award with Aguero’s total of 21 one shy of the 22 scored by the Liverpool pair Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mane scored twice for the Reds against Wolves as Liverpool came up short in their bid to win their first title since 1990.
Remarkably, their total of 97 points was the third-highest in top-flight English football history behind City’s 98 and the century they racked up last season.
Asked to describe his team’s performance over the last nine months, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “An outstanding season. Being second in the Premier League isn’t what we wanted tonight but we’ll take it. This is a first step, that’s how we see it.
“The team who played the last couple of weeks were together last year apart from Alisson. We were 25 points off last season. If we do those same steps again that will be a season.”
Despite Aubameyang’s two goals, Arsenal’s 3-1 win at Turf Moor against Burnley was not enough to get them into the top four despite the failure of Tottenham and Chelsea to pick up maximum points.
They drew, against Everton and Leicester respectively, and so Arsenal finished fifth, one point behind Spurs and two shy of the Blues, and must hope they beat Chelsea in the Europa League final to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“I am proud of the players, we deserve to be fighting for the top four,” said Gunners boss Unai Emery. “At the last moment we didn’t take it, but we are closer to the other teams.
“Our first target in the league we can not take, but we have the Europa League to play for one title and this [Champions League] target.”
Manchester United’s season ended in dismal fashion with a 2-0 home defeat to already-relegated Cardiff City.
The Welsh side stunned the Old Trafford faithful by inflicting yet another humiliation on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s shambolic side.
Both goals came from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing as United failed to win for the sixth time in their last seven matches.
“We have a long and hard way to be where we want to be,” said Solskjaer, whose side finished sixth, four points behind Arsenal.
“It will take some time to close in on the top. We finished five or six points behind third, fourth, fifth and that has to be our aim. The top two teams have set a standard higher than before and we have to take up the next challenge.
“The work starts now, everyone has the summer off but we have to come back with a different mentality and different attitude of being a Man Utd team.”
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