MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — Manchester City was confirmed as Premier League champion for the third time in four seasons after second-placed rival Manchester United lost (2-1) at home to Leicester City on Tuesday.
United’s defeat means City is 10 points clear with both sides having three games left to play.
City’s coronation had been delayed after Pep Guardiola’s side suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea on Saturday, although in truth it has looked uncatchable for several months.
It is Guardiola’s third Premier League title for City in his five seasons in charge and eighth domestic honor for the club.
“This has been a season and a Premier League title like no other,” said Guardiola, referring to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen matches played in empty stadiums.
“This was the hardest one. We will always remember this season for the way we won. I am so proud to be the manager here and of this group of players,” he added on the club website.
“To come through this season, with all the restrictions and difficulties we’ve face — and show the consistency we have is remarkable. It is relentless.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær praised his side for “pushing” City into the final fortnight of the season, even though they were never serious challengers.
“We have pushed Manchester City all the way, until 10-12 days left in the season and it is a very good achievement because they are a very good team,” Solskjær said.
“They are very worthy champions. I have to say congratulations because they have played some fantastic stuff this season.”
Despite City’s romp to the title, it endured a tough start to the season after picking up 12 points from its first eight games — its worst start since 2008-09.
Since then it has been head and shoulders above its rivals and after hitting the top has looked unstoppable.
After losing at Tottenham Hotspur in November, slipping to 11th in the table, it has won 22 of its next 27 matches, including a 15-game winning run and a record-equaling 11 successive away league wins.
Guardiola’s side, second-best to Liverpool last season, also won a fourth successive League Cup and can claim a treble by beating Chelsea in this month’s Champions League final.
A huge “Champions” banner was draped outside City’s Etihad Stadium while a smattering of fans arrived to mark the occasion.
It will be considerably noisier on May 23 when City hosts Everton on the final day of the Premier League season with 10,000 fans permitted to attend. — Reuters