Man City take greatness to new heights with fourth straight EPL title

Shaka Hislop: ‘There simply is no one better’ than Man City (2:50)

Shaka Hislop and the “ESPN FC” crew discuss what it takes to beat Manchester City in the Premier League title race, and how just one loss in 18 games spelled failure for Arsenal. (2:50)

  • Rob Dawson, CorrespondentMay 19, 2024, 02:30 PM ET

MANCHESTER, England — There was no drama at the Etihad Stadium. There was no repeat of Queens Park Rangers in 2012 or Aston Villa in 2022. Instead, in keeping with a run-in which has seen Manchester City showcase just why relentless consistency remains their most impressive characteristic, West Ham United were dispatched 3-1 with minimal fuss on the final day as Pep Guardiola’s team lifted a record fourth successive Premier League title.

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It didn’t matter that, 200 miles away in north London, Arsenal beat Everton 2-1. In truth, it hasn’t mattered much what Arsenal have done since the turn of the year. Mikel Arteta’s side have dropped just five points in 2024 and it still wasn’t good enough. City last lost a league game in December and their record over the final stretch reads: played six, won six, 20 goals scored and two conceded. No wonder Arsenal found it so hard to keep up.

“In terms of numbers, nobody has been better than us: the records, the goals, the points and four in a row,” said Guardiola after the match. “If I land here tomorrow and you say I will win six Premier Leagues in seven years, I would say ‘are you crazy?’ It’s impossible. We have done something unbelievable.”

While 115 Premier League charges for alleged breaches of financial rules hang over City, there will always be questions about how all of this has come together. But what’s not in doubt is the genius of Guardiola and the ruthless efficiency of his players.

Other clubs have spent similar amounts of money on transfers and wages, but no one else has come close to winning six titles in seven years. It’s domination that not even Liverpool of the 1970s and 1980s and Manchester United of the 1990s and 2000s can match, and with Guardiola insisting he’s intent of seeing out the final year of his contract, you wouldn’t bet against City making it five in a row next season. Taking in spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola has now won the league title in 12 of his 15 top-flight seasons as a manager.

One of his hallmarks is a constant drive to do more and after Phil Foden had put City 2-0 up inside the first 20 minutes, he dragged Rodri over for a chat. As a party atmosphere erupted around the Etihad, Guardiola grabbed the midfielder’s arm to vigorously pass on more instructions. Rodri argued back and was eventually ushered away by Bernardo Silva. It was a moment which encapsulated Guardiola’s drive to succeed. Even standing on the brink of history and the title party warming up, he still wasn’t satisfied.

It was fitting that Foden and Rodri scored the goals to get City over the line, undoubtedly Guardiola’s two best players this season. If the treble campaign was all about Erling Haaland, this one was about Foden. The 23-year-old scored his 18th and 19th league goals — the first after just 78 seconds — and if it hadn’t been for some committed West Ham defending, he would have walked off with another hat-trick. The Premier League player of the year is a champion for the sixth time.

“I never get bored of it, you want this feeling every time,” said Foden. “When you win something there is no better feeling. I want to keep winning as much as I can.

“It’s so hard to put into words what we’ve done today. No team has ever done it and we’ve put ourselves into the history books.

“To win the Premier League four times, no team has ever done it before, so to do it means we’re up there with the best teams of all time.

Guardiola said he knew from the first preseason training session in Japan that there would be no treble hangover and he’s been proved right. When Arsenal and Liverpool both dropped points on the same day in April, he told his players they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capitalise and from that point on, they were perfect.

“[To win] six Premier Leagues in seven years, in this country with the modern football and the teams and everything,” Guardiola reflected post-match. “The team and the organisation surprises me: it is an incredible club.”

No other team in the history of English football has won four top-flight titles in a row and City could yet become the first team to win back-to-back league and cup doubles if they beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley next Saturday (stream LIVE at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN+).

The inevitable question, after the trophy presentation table has been dismantled and the streamers cleared from the pitch, is how much more can they win? Arsenal’s form — winning 28 games and amassing 89 points — has presented the illusion of a title race, but City have been so consistent that even in the crucial moments there has been remarkably little jeopardy.

While Arsenal were pushed to their limits, City’s fourth title in a row was achieved without Kevin De Bruyne for five months and Haaland for two. Guardiola will strengthen his squad again over the summer and the challenge laid down to the rest of the Premier League will grow again.

On three occasions, City have had to come from behind to win a game on the final day to lift the title. There was none of the same drama against West Ham but the ending was familiar; Guardiola and his players on the pitch with the trophy.

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