Manchester City: The key moments that delivered the Premier League title for Pep Guardiola's side
Manchester City are the Premier League champions for the 20/21 season as Pep Guardiola picks up his third league title in England. In a season played behind closed doors, City have shown great resilience and determination to wrap up the league title with very little challenge from others. Here are nine key moments that defined City's title-winning campaign.
'A massive achievement' - Guardiola reflects on Man City's title win
But an emphatic 5-0 win over Burnley on November 28 began a turnaround which saw City go on a remarkable unbeaten run. Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick and it marked the moment in the league campaign City returned to their free-flowing best.
Lofty expectations were placed on 23-year-old Ruben Dias following his £62 million transfer from Benfica in September. He joined with the season already in its third gameweek and was quickly launched straight into the starting XI of a team where you have to be so much more than just a typical centre back.
But it did not take long for Dias to become the leader in the backline. Fans and pundits alike gushed over his display in City's 1-0 win over Arsenal on October 17.
The Portugal international was named Player of the Month in November and was instrumental in City's 28-game unbeaten run in all competitions that stretched to March.
Ruben Dias (L)
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City needed a central defender who could fill the glaring void left by Vincent Kompany in 2019 and Dias has fully merited his new reputation as one of the league's best centre backs - if not the best.
He has helped John Stones return to form along the way and the two have forged a solid defensive partnership with Aymeric Laporte providing more than competent cover.
Foden's breakthrough against Liverpool
David Silva left City in need of a creative midfielder and so there was hope that Foden would step up and share some of the attacking burden.
His display in City's 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield in February was a coming-of-age moment for the diminutive 20-year-old as he scored and grabbed an assist against the Premier League champions at Anfield operating as a false nine.
In all competitions Foden ranks second for goals and third for assists in the City squad and his impressive form has seen Raheem Sterling reduced to the bench. Foden may now even start ahead of Sterling at the Euros to highlight just how impressive he has been for City at the end of the season.
City's ruthless second-half masterclass against the 2020 champions at Anfield and the timing of the result ultimately confirmed their 2021 champion status.
Man City fans celebrate title win outside Etihad
Pep Guardiola's striker rotation
Sergio Aguero's absences this season due to injury and contracting Covid-19 has seen Guardiola try Gabriel Jesus, Ferran Torres, Foden, Sterling, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne - as well as the departing Argentine - all operate as the leading forward at different moments of the 20/21 campaign.
Guardiola's tendency to operate with a false nine from the start of October, and sometimes even two, has been a throwback to his immensely successful Barcelona side where Lionel Messi played the same role. It is a tactical adjustment that has consistently thrown opposition managers this season.
The unpredictability it has caused opponents has been a key factor in City's remarkable campaign and is partly reflected in how the goals have been shared out among the squad. Six different players have scored 5+ goals in the Premier League this campaign.
Bernardo Silva (L) and Ferran Torres (R) have both played as false nines this season
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Gundogan's goal return this campaign easily trumps his rate from the previous 12 years of his decorated career.
City's possession-dominant style, which sees the midfield and forward line regularly interchange, has consistently played into the hands of the central midfielder. He has been able to exploit the gaps left open by often overwhelmed opposition defenders.
Gundogan ranks first at the club for goals in the Premier League this season with 12 and has been shooting a lot more than previous seasons and with greater accuracy. Improving Gundogan's goal return is clearly something Guardiola and his coaching staff have worked with the Germany international on and it is paying off.
"He’s always had a sense of [where the] goal [is], playing for [Borussia] Dortmund," Guardiola told reporters back in March.
"As a player he is one of the most intelligent, wisest players I have ever trained, I have ever seen."
Ilkay Gundogan has been in fine goalscoring form for Man City this season
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Assist king Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne has always been a star in Manchester City's team since his arrival in 2015 and this season his 11 assists in the Premier League puts him comfortably ahead of the rest of his teammates and ranks joint second in the league with Bruno Fernandes.
The 29-year-old continues to be a constant problem for opponents whether he is playing in midfield or along the front line.
De Bruyne represented himself as he sealed a two-year contract worth £20m a season in March to keep him at the club until 2025 and he is not a player City will ever want to let go. The Belgian has been the club's talisman yet again and has regularly been at the centre of City's attacks.
What wins you a league title is consistency and City have shown it in abundance.
After an initially shaky start, City went on a remarkable run not just in the Premier League but in all competitions. They broke the records for most consecutive wins by a top flight English team in all competitions (21) the most consecutive league wins by a top flight team from the start of a calendar year (13) and equalled their club record for 28 games unbeaten in all competitions before a 2-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United on March 7 put an end to that.
City have been simply ruthless in the way they have sealed their fifth Premier League title.
The helping head
After failing to beat Chelsea on Saturday it was more likely than not that City's coronation would be confirmed when they were not playing and proved to be the case.
The player who sealed the title was Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu, whose header saw the Foxes beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday.