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Man City crowned 2020-21 Premier League champions

Manchester City crowned 2020-21 Premier League champions; City's third title in four years under Pep Guardiola; City add Premier League glory to Carabao Cup success; attention now turns to Champions League bid

Man City are the 2020/21 Premier League champions
Image: Man City are the 2020/21 Premier League champions

Manchester City have been crowned 2020-21 Premier League champions after Manchester United's defeat to Leicester.

Pep Guardiola's side have had to wait to rubberstamp their latest triumph, following changes to the fixture schedule and their own slip-up.

A late defeat to Chelsea last weekend as closest rivals United won at Aston Villa kept City's champagne on ice but they finally reclaimed the Premier League title from Liverpool before kicking a ball again as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were beaten 2-1 on Tuesday after making 10 changes to their starting line-up.

City have now won three Premier League titles and eight major trophies under Guardiola, who last year signed a new two-year contract to remain at the club until 2023.

Pep Guardiola has won his third league title in four years at Man City
Image: Pep Guardiola has won his third league title in four years at Man City

Pep's timeline

  • 2008-12: Barcelona - 14 major trophies, including treble in first year
  • 2012-13: Sabbatical in New York
  • 2013-2016: Bayern Munich - Seven major trophies
  • 2016-present: Manchester City - Eight major trophies (3x Premier League, 4x League Cup, 1x FA Cup)

Pep: The hardest one, this is for our fans and Colin Bell

City boss Guardiola described this season's title win as the "hardest one" and dedicated the triumph to the fans who have had to stay away from the matches and the late, great club icon Colin Bell, who passed away earlier this year.

"This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other. This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way that we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players," Guardiola said in a statement.

"They are so special. To come through this season - with all the restrictions and difficulties we've faced - and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless. Every single day, they are there, fighting for success, trying always to be better. They have been so, so resilient.

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"That is equally true of each and every member of our backroom staff, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our players are fully equipped to take on the unexpected challenges and new routines throughout such a turbulent year.

"Not forgetting, of course, all of the staff across our organisation who work to make this club the success it is. Whether that's been from the offices at the City Football Academy or working from home, the efforts of every employee in such trying circumstances have contributed to this achievement.

"At the start of every season, the Premier League is the most important title for us. This is the one where you have to be there every three days, playing all your rivals home and away. Only by being the very best, week in week out, can you win this competition. It is a huge success.

"It is so important to say a huge thank you to all our fans. In our toughest moments, we couldn't hear the crowd get behind us as usual, but we know they are with us everywhere we go and that has lifted us. I promise them we sense their love, we appreciate it and we could not have done what we have done without it.

"I hope we can all celebrate together one day not too far away. It has been such a hard year for so many people. This one is really for our fans and for Colin Bell and all his family."

How City triumphed after slow start

City are the kings of England again but it was far from plain sailing during the first half of the campaign.

They won only five of their first 13 league games and were almost exclusively positioned in the bottom half of the table until December.

But that poor form ended abruptly after a 1-1 draw with West Brom at the Etihad.

A staggering 21-game win streak in all competitions ensued, including 15 successive victories in the Premier League, to build a 12-point lead atop the table - before the run ended in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in March.

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Despite a slow start, City have led the way across all key metrics at both ends of the pitch.

Their domination on the ball and high press has also been unrivalled as they have completed more passes and recoveries in the attacking third than any other team.

One of the standout quirks of City's season has been the frequent absence of a recognised striker.

Indeed, their top scorer in the Premier League is midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, followed by wingers Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.

In fact, Guardiola has started neither Gabriel Jesus or Sergio Aguero in 12 league games this season and reaped a higher points return than when starting one or both, on average.

Carra and Nev hail 'player of season' Ruben Dias

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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher pick their Premier League Player and Young Player of the Year on the final MNF of the season

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher believe the summer signing of Ruben Dias has proved pivotal to City's triumph.

Speaking on the final Monday Night Football of the season as he and Neville revealed their 2020/21 award-winners, Carragher said: "I said on this show at the start of the season that if this signing didn't work, it would be the end of City and Pep.

"You might think that's a huge statement, but he was a £65m defender. They never replaced Vincent Kompany and last season that was a huge blow for them but he has come in and been the best defender in the league - and for me the best player.

"He's like Puyol. The amount of blocks he made in the Champions League game the other day, it reminded me of John Terry. Also, his leadership qualities for such a young player. To go into that big a team and look like the leader of the team, I think that's pretty special."

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Former Manchester City defender Sylvain Distin praises the impact Ruben Dias has had on the team

Neville said: "Dias has surprised me, dominating like he has for someone so young. I played with Jaap Stam, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand... Dias is one of those who makes the rest of the team safe.

"The impact of the great centre-backs is not just what they do in terms of their own performance, they impact everybody else in that back four and the people in front of them. Dias is exceptional.

"At the start of the season, I didn't think there was any way that City back four could win the league, so for him to do what he's done, he's been the most important player this season."

Nev's praise for Gundogan, Foden

Image: Gary Neville's Team of the Season contains five Man City players

Former Manchester United captain Neville included five City players in his team of the season but reserved special praise for Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden.

"The reason I went for Ilkay Gundogan is that I think he transformed Manchester City's season," Neville said.

"At the period when they weren't playing well, in that two or three-month period, I thought he was the main man. He was absolutely out of this world in this period and what they've gone on to do since is because of him.

"When was the last time we saw an exceptional English talent like Phil Foden? Wayne Rooney? Foden is a once-in-a-generation type player, he's that good. He's unbelievable.

"Let's not forget, he's played at Manchester City, to get into that team, with that manager, you've got be something unbelievably special. Foden could be something outrageous in the coming years if he gets it right on and off the pitch."

'One of Pep's greatest achievements'

Pep Guardiola
Image: Guardiola has won his third Premier League crown in four years

Carragher believes this Premier League represents one of Guardiola's greatest achievements and saluted the Spaniard for revitalising his side after they appeared to struggle with the departure of several key players.

"If you go back to the last game of last season for Manchester City, that Champions League defeat to Lyon, it was a real bad one," Carragher said.

"Everyone blamed Pep Guardiola for that. They came back for the following season without having much break.

"When Leicester beat them 5-2, as a Liverpool supporter I fully expected Liverpool to win the league; the problems were there for City and I didn't expect to see what they have done this season.

"I actually think this is one of Pep's greatest achievements because that spine of Vincent Kompany, David Silva are not there and even Sergio Aguero hasn't played that many games. The legends who have built City's success over the last decade are not there. Pep has created something different."

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Are Man City now a 'great' team?

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City have been crowned 2020-21 Premier League champions. Pictures: Manchester City

Manchester City have overcome the unique challenges of this season to reclaim the Premier League crown. But now comes the tricky debate about greatness…

Man City's remaining fixtures

Fri May 14: Newcastle vs Man City - Kick-off: 7.45pm

Tues May 18: Brighton vs Man City - Kick-off: 7pm

Sun May 23: Man City vs Everton - Kick-off 4pm

Now for elusive Champions League trophy?

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Guardiola believes Manchester City's next game with Chelsea in the Champions League final will play out differently to their Premier League meeting

City remain on course for a Treble this season.

Having already secured the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 win over Tottenham and added the Premier League title to their trophy haul, Guardiola's troops could yet cap their season with the club's first-ever Champions League trophy after reaching the final for the first time.

City will face Chelsea in an all-English final on May 29.

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