By Andrew Warshaw
May 13 – The most thrilling title-chasing season since the Premier League was created in 1992 was finally concluded on Sunday when Manchester City held their nerve to retain the trophy on the final day and condemn Liverpool to second place despite them losing only one league game all campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s side thus became the first team since Manchester United in 2009 to hold on to the trophy after what he described as the toughest title challenge of his illustrious coaching career.
The fact that Liverpool amassed 97 points – the highest ever total for a team finishing second – said everything about City’s achievement though critics will argue that they relied once again on a huge financial outlay from their Middle East owners having won next to nothing for two generations before the influx of Abu Dhabi money in 2008.
And it isn’t over yet for City who have the chance to become the first English club ever to win the treble of league, FA Cup and League Cup with the FA Cup final against Watford on Saturday.
Liverpool could hardly have done much more throughout the season, running City close week by week and winning their final game 2-0 against Wolves just as City hammered lowly Brighton – who subsequently sacked their manager – 4-1 to keep Jurgen Klopp’s team at bay one last time.
“We’re so, so tired, but at the same time winning the title gives you a lot of energy and is so addictive.” Guardiola said after picking up his eighth league title in a decade in three separate countries. “This is the toughest one especially (because) of the rival we had to face all season.”
Liverpool will perhaps rue the fact that they were seven points clear at one stage though even they could not have imagined that City would win their last 14 straight games stretching back to January. Their combined 195 points were a top-flight record for the champions and runners-up while the 62 wins they amassed together was also a record.
City’s only regret will be failure once again to land the Champions League, something Liverpool can still achieve against Tottenham Hotspur in the all-English final on June 1.
Having lost in last season’s final, clinching European club football’s showpiece crown will be reward for Klopp’s entertaining side who are still chasing their first domestic league title in the Premier League era but are arguably the best team in the country never to have managed it.
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