Manchester City crowned 2018/19 EPL champions
The drama went right down until the final day of the season but Manchester City were eventually crowned Premier League champions for the 2018/19 season on Sunday.
Manchester City knew that they needed a win on Sunday against Brighton, or else Liverpool, who faced Wolves, would likely steal the honour. And win they did, their 14th straight domestic win in magnificent season to retain the EPL title.
Spare a thought for Liverpool, who did more than play their part, and pushed Manchester City until the very end. Their win against Wolves on the final day meant that they ended the season just one point behind the champions on 97 points. That total is the club’s best ever and would have been enough to win the league in all but the last two iterations of the league. Previously, no side has scored more than 90 points and not won the trophy.
Final day drama
Pre-match, not even the most hopeful of Liverpool fans – or the most negative of City fans – would have expected Manchester City not to beat Brighton. But, for just a moment, it looked like the nerves could hamper City, as they struggled to find their flow in the opening minutes. Then the unthinkable. Brighton took a shock lead thanks to a Glenn Murray header.
Could it be? Could City really fall at the last after such dominance for almost the entire season. Liverpool were already leading at Molineux and doubts must have entered the minds of Guardiola, the fans, and players alike.
But those doubts were immediately expelled. Sergio Agüero latched onto a slipped through ball and finished from a tight angle. The scores were level barely a minute after Brighton had taken the lead. Aymeric Laporte then leapt high and headed home from a corner before half-time. City were in the driving seat.
The killer blow came on the hour. Riyad Mahrez, a surprise inclusion in the team, made one of his trademark feints on the edge of the box, switching to his right foot, and smashing the ball home. A Gündoğan freekick sealed the deal. Manchester City had defended their title successfully.
While expected, this win is huge for Guardiola. Despite their dominance and excellence throughout the season, defeat here could have meant a league cup trophy only at worst. Out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, failure to win the league would have been unacceptable for Pep.
City are the first team in 14 years to successfully defend their EPL crown. They head into an FA Cup final against Watford for the third trophy of the season. They will be expected to win, but next season, the UCL will perhaps be the focus. Guardiola has a famously poor record in that competition since his time at Barcelona.
97 points not enough for Liverpool
Liverpool fans knew it was unlikely City would slip up on Sunday, but that won’t help the pain and disappointment felt at the club at coming second. Their huge points tally would have won them the title in almost any other season, and they took the eventual winners to the wire.
Klopp insists that the team remains positive and the season was a success. That is an honest sentiment. Liverpool have added defensive prowess to their team, with van Dijk becoming the glue that binds the team together. The team were the best defensively in the league, with the most clean sheets.
The Reds also head into a Champions League final as favourites next month against Tottenham. A miraculous comeback against Barcelona sent them there and while the EPL title has eluded them, memories of that historic win at Anfield will be forever cherished. Should they win the Champions League then Liverpool fans, despite not winning the domestic title they desire so much, will look back on this season with fondness, rather than bitterness. Should they lose that match, then the season will be a painful example of close but no cigar.