EPL

Champions Manchester City finish with a flourish at home

By Sports Desk May 21, 2023

Manchester City celebrated their latest Premier League title triumph with a straightforward 1-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side had already been confirmed as champions for a fifth time in six seasons after Arsenal’s loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

That meant the Etihad Stadium was in celebratory mood for the visit of the Blues and a much-changed side gave the fans another success to cheer courtesy of an early Julian Alvarez goal.

Chelsea had a few bright moments but City, without getting anywhere near the intensity with which they crushed Real Madrid in midweek, always seemed in control.

Fans had arrived to party in the sunshine and the ‘Poznan’ was seen on more than one occasion.

City were given a guard of honour by their opponents as they entered the field and they went on to knock the ball around with a such a swagger that – perhaps embarrassingly for a Chelsea side that aspires to the heights City have reached – it appeared the Londoners faced a long afternoon.

It seemed only a matter of time before the opening goal came and it arrived after 12 minutes as City seized possession in midfield and Cole Palmer picked out Alvarez in front of goal.

The Argentina World Cup winner took a touch and then emphatically drilled a shot across Kepa Arrizabalaga. It was City’s 100th home goal in all competitions this season.

Chelsea looked well off the pace, much as they have done throughout what has been a dispiriting end to the season under temporary boss Frank Lampard.

Former City forward Raheem Sterling attempted to rouse them. The England international twice got behind the City defence but was unable to pick out a team-mate the first time and then had a shot saved by Stefan Ortega.

Conor Gallagher then went closer when he headed against the post from a Lewis Hall cross.

Yet City always seemed in command and Phil Foden was only narrowly off-target with an attempted chip and Kalvin Phillips, finally making his first league start for the champions, blasted wide.

Phillips was inches away from getting on the scoresheet after the break when he met a Riyad Mahrez free-kick with a firm header but it rebounded off the foot of the post.

At the other end, Hall and Sterling both shot at Ortega. Sterling had another effort cleared off the line by City substitute John Stones, although an offside flag was raised anyway.

Alvarez thought he had claimed a second with just under 20 minutes remaining but Mahrez controlled the ball with his arm before teeing up the Argentinian.

With it being City’s last home match of the season, star pair Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne were given a run-out in the latter stages. Rodri also came off the bench as City closed out their 12th successive Premier League win.

Thousands of fans invaded the pitch after the final whistle, delaying the trophy presentation.

After the celebrations subside, City have further league games at Brighton and Brentford before they play the FA Cup and Champions League finals next month.

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    In truth manager Jurgen Klopp had little option after his list of injured players grew to 12 when Ryan Gravenberch was carried off on a stretcher after 30 minutes of the 1-0 extra-time win at Wembley.

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    “We didn’t believe it was a risk. What else are we meant to do? That was our bench and the quality they have we can see at the training ground every day. We just wanted them to express themselves and that is what we tried to help them with.

    “Credit to the academy coaches, how much hard work they have put in to produce these players, but also the experienced players and manager and coaches who have said ‘Go out and play with freedom on the biggest stage. Go and enjoy it and don’t come off with any regrets’ and I think they all did that.

    “Bobby Clark, James, they were all different class but Bobby really took the game by the scruff of the neck. He showed composure as well. It’s incredible.

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    Klopp has a good record of giving youth a chance but what is equally important as opportunity is attitude and Robertson believes the club have created the perfect environment for them to flourish.

    “That comes from the coaches driving that into them and then when they come into the first team it is not allowing them to get too far ahead of themselves,” added the Scotland captain.

    “I think the squad is really good at that but also the coaches, they don’t give them too much, too soon and I think that’s key to it.

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    “Understanding how long he’s been here, I think he knows he has done everything he can. He has won it all. Everyone respects his decision and we understand it.

    “He is one of the wisest men we know and when he says he’s ready, he’s ready. It is what it is, we can’t dwell on that, we just have to do him justice.”

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    Liverpool currently lead the Premier League by a point from Manchester City and are one of the favourites for the FA Cup and Europa League as for the second time in three seasons they attempt to chase an unprecedented quadruple.

    Two years ago they finished with a domestic cup double, missing out on the title by a point and losing the Champions League final by a solitary Real Madrid goal, but Gomez is hoping they can do even better.

    “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but we are in every competition and we are going to try to win every game. That’s the target and we will go again,” he said.

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