Manchester City champions: 10 games which decided the title race
From Liverpool’s stalemate with a depleted Man United to Agüero’s goal at Burnley
Sergio Aguero celebrates Manchester City’s title win at Brighton. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty
Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City, October 7th
The teams are level seven games in. City play with restraint after two defeats at Anfield the previous season, 3-0 (in the Champions League) and 4-3 (in the league), and their point might have been three but for Riyad Mahrez’s penalty miss. “You know Liverpool will punish our mistakes and at the back we controlled it very well,” Pep Guardiola says.
Man City P8 Pts 20; Liverpool P8 Pts 20
Leicester 2-1 Manchester City, December 26th
City lose for the third time in four league matches, after defeats by Crystal Palace and Chelsea, and Guardiola admits: “Now there will be doubts.” Fabian Delph’s late red card sums up City’s frustration after they blow the lead. With Liverpool beating Newcastle 4-0, Jürgen Klopp’s team are six points clear of second-placed Tottenham. “It is too early to talk about us being contenders for the title,” Klopp says.
Liverpool P19 Pts 51; Man City P19 Pts 44
Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool, January 3rd
Liverpool’s 20-game unbeaten run is ended by City, who reduce their opponents’ lead to four points. Sergio Agüero puts City in front, Roberto Firmino equalises and Leroy Sané secures the points when he puts away a cross from Raheem Sterling. Guardiola describes his players as “incredible”. Klopp bemoans the lack of a red card for Vincent Kompany’s first-half tackle on Mohamed Salah: “He is last man and he goes in. If he hits Mo more, he is out for the season.”
Liverpool P21 Pts 54; Man City P21 Pts 50
Newcastle 2-1 Manchester City, January 29th
City’s eight-match winning run in all competitions comes to an unexpected halt after they go ahead through Agüero on 24 seconds. The game changes when Salomón Rondón equalises midway through the second half; a Matt Ritchie penalty then wins it for Newcastle. Liverpool fans profess their love for Rafael Benítez on Twitter. Their team lead by four points with a game in hand.
Liverpool P23 Pts 60; Man City P24 Pts 56
Liverpool 1-1 Leicester, January 30th
The following night Liverpool fail to capitalise. They get a perfect start, Sadio Mané scoring in the third minute, but Harry Maguire equalises in first-half stoppage time. Liverpool feel they should have had a penalty for a challenge by Maguire on Naby Keïta but this is a subdued display. Klopp looks on the bright side: “Still everything is fine.”
Liverpool P24 Pts 61; Man City P24 Pts 56
Manchester United 0-0 Liverpool, February 24th
The draw takes Liverpool top but Klopp is frustrated by his team’s failure to defeat opponents who lose three players to injury in the first half. “On days when United are beatable you have to do it,” the manager says. “We played around with no speed. We expect to play better football.” Liverpool fail to make a chance of note.
Liverpool P27 Pts 66; Man City P27 Pts 65
Everton 0-0 Liverpool, March 3rd
Liverpool need a win to go top but are held on another afternoon when their cutting edge is missing. Salah fails to capitalise on two openings and Klopp refers to the weather in his analysis: “The wind was coming from all directions and did not help anybody.”
Man City P29 Pts 71; Liverpool P29 Pts 70
Burnley 0-1 Manchester City, April 28th
Goalline technology shows that Agüero’s shot has crossed the line by 29.51mm to deliver a scrappy victory which takes City back to the top. It sums up the fine margins which will decide the title race and extends City’s impressive response to going out of the Champions League. This is a third win in a row since then, the others coming against Tottenham and Manchester United.
Manchester City P36 Pts 92; Liverpool P36 Pts 91
Manchester City 1-0 Leicester, May 6th
A spectacular 70th-minute goal by Kompany takes City to within touching distance of the title. “I could hear people saying: ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!’” the defender later reflects. “I’ve not come this far in my career to have young players tell me when to shoot.” Kelechi Iheanacho wastes a glorious late chance to equalise.
Man City P37 Pts 95; Liverpool P37 Pts 94
Brighton 1-4 Manchester City, May 12th
Briefly it seems City might blow it. With Liverpool leading 1-0 against Wolves, Guardiola’s side concede the opening goal. But they respond swiftly and decisively to lead through Agüero and Aymeric Laporte and secure the game – and back-to-back titles – in the second half.
“It’s a combination of a great group of players, great staff and our incredible desire to overachieve,” Kompany says. “Because we’ve got such a good team overachieving is difficult but we’re looking forward to the FA Cup final now.”
Man City P38 Pts 98; Liverpool P38 Pts 97