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What was once an inevitability is now a reality. Manchester City is the 2020-21 Premier League champion.
City had a chance to clinch the title on Saturday but fell 2-1 at home to Chelsea. With the club leading 1-0 in the third minute of first-half stoppage time, Sergio Aguero failed to convert a penalty and subsequently apologized for his poor attempt at a Panenka:
Agüero attempted the panenka, and he missed. https://t.co/iIAhvj99Z0
I would like to apologise to my teammates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty. It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility.
Pep Guardiola's squad opened up a sizable gap on United and the rest of its title rivals as the season drew to a close, but early in the campaign, it looked like the club was on shaky ground.
Through eight matches, Manchester City was in 13th and eight points off Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, which both had 20 points in nine fixtures. Guardiola signed a contract extension in November, so his future wasn't in doubt. However, City appeared to need a squad refresh in order to mount another title challenge.
But after a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Dec. 15, the Sky Blues went on a 15-match winning streak. Following the last of those 15 victories, they had climbed to the top of the table, 14 points clear of United in second place.
Ruben Dias is widely viewed as the player most instrumental during Manchester City's dominant run. City surrendered the second-fewest goals (35) during the 2019-20 season, but it tended to panic a bit when it did concede.
Pep Guardiola strongly wanted Ruben Dias last summer as “the perfect centre-back” suggested to the board, that’s why Manchester City agreed to spend €54M + Otamendi to sign him... and what a signing. 🔵🇵🇹 #MCFC
The Ruben Dias effect at Manchester City: ▪️Average a goal conceded every 2 games ▪️Won 37 Drawn 6 Lost 3 in games he’s played ▪️EFL Cup 🏆 ▪️Premier League ⏳ ▪️First #UCL final appearance in club’s history Wall. https://t.co/tLM7KryeVg
The Citizens have also been the most prolific offensive team in the league, tallying 72 goals across a balanced attack led by Ilkay Gundogan's 12 goals. Raheem Sterling has added 10, and Riyad Mahrez has scored 10. Sixteen players have scored for City in the league this season, picking up the slack for Aguero. He has only scored twice in 11 games after tallying 12 or more goals in each of his first nine league campaigns and reaching the 20-goal mark six times.
Manchester City's domestic superiority is largely a given with three titles in four seasons. A Champions League triumph has continued to prove elusive, though. That could finally change with City and Chelsea matched up in the Champions League final May 29.
As great as supporters are feeling Tuesday, the 2020-21 campaign might be considered disappointing if the English giants once again fall short of lifting a European trophy.
Read full article at Bleacher Report
11 May, 2021 - 04:01pm
Manchester United fans: Discuss the Leicester game with our reporter Laurie Whitwell
Pose your questions now and The Athletic’s Manchester United reporter Laurie Whitwell will join in a couple of hours before kick-off, then discuss the performance, where the match was won and lost and pick through what the result means for the club.
11 May, 2021 - 04:01pm
Fans of the club and beyond ridiculed that transfer fee to no end in 2019 when United made England's favourite 'slabhead' the most expensive defender in the world. And it was somewhat warranted considering the circumstances at that point.
Sure, he looked good for Leicester. But this is United, where another mass rebuild was under way, this time under the nose of a club legend. Is another overpriced Englishman really the sensible approach?
It absolutely was. Since the move, Maguire has grown into the role of captain at Old Trafford. Despite the doubt over his ability at the top level, he has quietly developed into a key piece of the puzzle for United.
All good things must come to an end, though, and after an incredible run of 72 consecutive Premier League starts for United, injury against Aston Villa looks to have ended that run.
It's a weird feeling as a fan to be so gutted and subsequently concerned regarding his absence. But make no mistake, that absence will be felt tremendously. Maguire's ability to keep up such incredible fitness levels in a horrendously congested fixture climate is impressive enough, so to do it at a seriously consistent performance level that has been key to United's development is even better.
Of course it's what you'd expect from an £80m signing, but nobody has ever really seen Maguire as that. He is by no means perfect, but the prospect of going into the final chunk of Premier League games and a Europa League final without the captain is, frankly, a bit terrifying.
And while there were defensive wobbles earlier in the season, there has been little overall Maguire could do as the ever-present in defence. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's captain has always been called upon no matter who else completes the defence with him and is tasked with leading the charge. And the truth is, he makes whichever central defender that starts with him operate at a higher level.
There have long been doubts over the long term ability of Victor Lindelof, and rightly so. Another defender is needed in the summer to partner Maguire, but Lindelof has found a vein of consistency through 2021. The issue, though, is that United simply cannot trust him. The Swede always looks capable of dropping a clanger of a performance even when at his best.
As for other options, Axel Tuanzebe cannot find enough fitness to break into the XI and the same can be said for Eric Bailly, which makes United's decision to hand him a contract extension all the more peculiar. Bailly looked strong in early 2021 with good performances against Aston Villa, Burnley and Real Sociedad in particular, but again fitness levels have been his downfall; an issue that will seemingly always plague him.
Again, there is still room to improve and recruiting the long term partner for Maguire in the transfer market in summer looks like the best bet. But for now, it's time to give the 27-year-old United captain the credit he most definitely deserves.
When he's not riding pool inflatables and scoring headers for England, he's dominating the backline as captain of Manchester United, doing everything that Sir Alex Ferguson hoped Phil Jones would be doing by now.
11 May, 2021 - 04:01pm
Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Savage clashed after the latter claimed Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the history of the Premier League.
The Spaniard now has an incredible record of having won nine league titles in his last 12 seasons as a manager.
City will now face Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29 with the chance to complete a truly sensational campaign.
The league title was the 32nd of Guardiola's managerial career, and cemented his place as one of the best ever.
But Ferdinand scoffed at the idea that the Spaniard should be considered better than United icon Sir Alex Ferguson.
Savage said: “Pep improves players and that side is incredible.
“For me, the best manager I’ve witnessed in the Premier League.”
Ferdinand responded by saying: “Sorry, like Chris Sutton said, you should go and get your coat for that.”
But Savage insisted: “Listen, the reason I’m saying that, Sir Alex is obviously the record he has.
“But in terms of overall, at Barca, at Bayern, now at Manchester City.
“The way teams from the Premier League down to grassroots play like Manchester City, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“The way he evolves teams. He’s won trophies with teams he should win trophies with, but if he wins the Champions League for Man City, for me, possibly the best ever.”
Ferdinand added: “I think Pep, I love him, he’s a maverick. This season, what he’s done especially, tactically the way he’s changed his team.
“He’s thickened up his midfield, got more bodies in, played with a false number nine, getting more bodies in the midfield to control the pace of the game, not making it a basketball game, up and down. “It was more about controlling possession, strangling teams.”
The two then went on to argue about City's possible treble this season - the Champions League, Premier League and Carabao Cup.
Savage said: “He could win the treble.”
Ferdinand joked: “Not the real one though.”