Premier League: Reliving a ridiculous final day

When Sergio Aguero put the ball into the Queens Park Rangers’ net a decade ago to secure Manchester City’s first English Premier League title, commentator Martin Tyler said that the world would never see anything like that again. Ten years later, City provided us with another iconic final day performance to secure their sixth league title.

When Aston Villa made it 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it almost felt poetic that a team managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard and a goal scored by former Red Phillipe Coutinho was about to hand the Mersyside club their second title in three years.

After City’s capitulation against Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League semifinal, many pundits thought the team lacked big personalities when it came to pressure situations and these statements seemed to be true with 20 minutes left to play at the Etihad.

The Anfield faithful may have also believed that doing the quadruple — something that has never been done before — was now a tale of destiny.

However, as goes the cliché “anything can happen in football”, once again proved itself in a matter of just five minutes as a brace from İlkay Gündoğan and a goal from Rodrigo saw City secure the title for the sixth time and a fourth time in the last five years. 

City manager Pep Guardiola credited Liverpool’s efforts in the league as he noted that his side was just one inch ahead of them and that Liverpool have never given up in the past five years. However, he had major praise for his side as well.

“We are legends. When you win the Premier League four times in five seasons it’s because these guys are so, so special. We will be remembered. The first title we won with lots of margin, then at Brighton, then winning at home without fans and now with people, it’s the best,” he said.

“Before you had to get 82 or 83 points, now you have to get 90, in this league, this country, with these teams against these managers and these players. It is quite remarkable,” Guardiola added.

But Sunday’s football was not just about the top of the table. It gave us an enthralling relegation battle between Leeds United and Burnley. 

Leeds were favourites to go down as they played an exciting Brentford side who would have loved to hammer a nail into their coffin, but a spirited performance meant that the Yorkshire side would win 2-1.

The win may have not been enough for Leeds, because if Burnley matched their result, they would be back in the EFL Championship next season.

Burnley came up against a rejuvenated Newcastle team fueled by a recent Saudi consortium endorsement and a new system of football under manager Eddie Howe. 

The Magpies proved too strong for Burnley as a Callum Wilson double condemned them to relegation after a six-year tenure in English top flight football. 

It is difficult to assess where threats to Man City’s title will come from next season, especially with the club having already secured the signature of goal machine, Erling Haaland.

Liverpool may well be on City’s tails again, but with the club currently struggling to find an agreement for a new deal with talisman and Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah, a significant gap in that Liverpool lineup could hinder Jurgen Klopp’s chances next season.

Chelsea were tipped to push both Liverpool and Man City at the beginning of the season, but inconsistency and the disarray the club was thrown into once their owner Roman Abramovic was forced to sell the club proved detrimental to their title hopes. Still lacking a prolific goal scorer and now losing their best defender, Antonio Rudiger, will also give Thomas Tuchel a headache when the new season begins in August.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are all in the process of a major rebuild before they can come close to the Premier League crown, but all three seem to have found long-term plans to end the dominance of City and Liverpool.
With the 2022 Fifa World Cup coming up in November, the new season will begin a week earlier than the previous campaign, which leaves limited time for those intending to pillage City to come up with ideas to do so, and with Guardiola adding a prime number nine to the City team for next season, the job ahead for other managers may just be getting tougher.

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Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

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