Five reasons why Man City won the Premier League

AFP , Sunday 19 May 2024

Manchester City are celebrating a historic fourth straight Premier League title, underlining their total dominance of the English game, but several key factors contributed to their historic triumph.

Manchester City
Manchester City s English midfielder #47 Phil Foden poses with the Premier League trophy after the presentation ceremony following the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 19, 2024. AFP


AFP Sport looks at five reasons for City's success -- their sixth English title in seven seasons.

Ortega's crucial save

When Son Heung-min burst through the middle with just Stefan Ortega to beat on Tuesday, time stood still at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The entire season hung in the balance late in a game in which Spurs fans were caught in two minds over whether they wanted to deprive City of points and thereby give a boost to bitter local rivals Arsenal.

Ortega, City's number two goalkeeper, who had replaced the injured Ederson in the 69th minute, raced out of his area and saved with his legs to keep the score at 1-0 to City.

Minutes later Pep Guardiola's team were 2-0 up courtesy of a penalty from Erling Haaland, securing a two-point cushion over Arsenal and keeping the destiny of the title in their hands.

Foden steps up

Phil Foden has stepped out of the shadow of Kevin De Bruyne this season in spectacular style, becoming a crucial creative force for the team.

Belgium midfielder De Bruyne suffered an injury in the first match of the season and did not return to action until January.

That gave England's Foden more of an opportunity to play centrally, a position he admits he prefers, and he has responded by scoring 27 goals in all competitions, together with 11 assists.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand recently said Foden was a ready-made replacement for De Bruyne at the Etihad, predicting "the passing of the torch is coming soon".

De Bruyne, one of the Premier League's greatest-ever midfielders, is still only 32 but Foden, who scored twice in City's 3-1 win against West Ham on Sunday, is making an ever-more convincing case for himself.

Rodri - Man City's lucky charm

When Rodri is in Manchester City's team, they do not lose. It's simple maths.

The Spanish midfielder's numbers for Manchester City are scarcely credible -- they have not lost a match in which he has played since February 2023.

The 27-year-old sometimes flies under the radar at the club, overshadowed by starry names such as Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden, but Rodri is the man that makes City tick.

Rodri notched the most passes and most touches of any player in the 2023/24 Premier League season and also contributed eight top-flight goals.

City boss Guardiola certainly appreciates the work he does, describing him in February as "the best midfield player, currently, in the world by far".

Arsenal, Liverpool stumble

April 14 will be circled on Guardiola's calendar as the day the title race tilted decisively in City's favour.

Going into that weekend, it was a three-way tussle between City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

City demolished Luton 5-1 on April 13 but Jurgen Klopp's men were shocked 1-0 at home by Crystal Palace the following day while Arsenal went down 2-0 at home to Aston Villa.

Liverpool then dropped off the pace while Arsenal continued winning to keep the pressure on. But ultimately it was not enough.

Hotshot Haaland

Erling Haaland is widely considered to have come off the boil after a spectacular first season at Manchester City, but he still bagged the Premier League Golden Boot award.

The Norwegian was frustrated by injuries and the occasional brief lean spell, but he still ended up with a remarkable 27 top-flight goals -- five more than second-placed Cole Palmer.

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane last month described Haaland as "almost League Two level" after City's 0-0 draw with Arsenal.

But Haaland answered in spectacular style, scoring nine goals in his last seven Premier League games as City held off Arsenal to win the title.

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