Manchester City arrived at the Etihad Stadium to heroes’ welcomes on Sunday following confirmation of their fifth Premier League title in six years.

City’s lead at the top of the table became insurmountable when closest challengers Arsenal were beaten at Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening.

That meant Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea became a celebratory occasion regardless of the result.

City fans gathered in large numbers at the entrance to the stadium as the team arrived for the 4pm kick-off.

Blue flares were let off and the players were greeted with chants of ‘champions’ as they stepped off the bus.

City’s title success, sealed with three games to spare, could be the first leg of a glorious treble for Pep Guardiola’s side, with FA Cup and Champions League finals to come next month.

Erik ten Hag praised Manchester United’s collective efforts defensively after David de Gea collected the Golden Glove award for the goalkeeper with the most Premier League clean sheets.

United’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth brought De Gea his 17th shut-out of the campaign, taking him clear of Liverpool’s Alisson Becker, as well as helping the team to within a point of Champions League qualification.

De Gea has been at fault several times this season, most recently in gifting West Ham a goal in a 1-0 defeat at the London Stadium and as the team crashed out of the Europa League against Sevilla.

Yet against Bournemouth he gave a reminder that his shot-stopping ability and reflexes remain undiminished, making three excellent saves from Dominic Solanke, David Brooks and Kieffer Moore to preserve United’s lead.

Ten Hag agreed that De Gea has been a key factor in the team’s defensive record, which is the third best in the league, but emphasised it has been a group effort.

He also singled out central defenders Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane in helping United to back-to back clean sheets that have now virtually secured their place in the top four.

“A clean sheet is always very important to be successful in a season,” said Ten Hag.

“I think it’s telling something about our structure, our plan, and it’s telling also something about dedication from the team. The belief they had in this plan and how they execute it.

“Of course we have some individual great players in pressing, in the defending. In the end also a very good goalkeeper who will save you in one-on-ones and shots.

“If you’re talking about clean sheets, it’s across the whole team, but centre-halves are very important.

“I think they played a really focussed game, really well defended, but I think over many games in April and May it’s Victor together with Rafa is doing great; positioning, duelling. Very good.”

United’s win was secured courtesy of Casemiro’s brilliantly improvised goal in the ninth minute, hooking the ball into the roof of the net after Christian Eriksen’s fine cross had deflected off defender Marcos Senesi.

The victory at the Vitality Stadium did not find the visitors at their best but nevertheless Ten Hag said he was impressed with his side’s work with the ball in Bournemouth’s half, particularly in the opening 25 minutes.

“We emphasise a lot and we train a lot (that) it’s about the movements when we are in the final third,” he said.

“The movements of course have to come first from the front line, second line just behind, but also from the third one with full-backs, with Casemiro coming from there.

“The movement is great (for the goal), the touch from Christian Eriksen I think is great, and the finish is brilliant.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta knows it will take time for his side to get to the level Manchester City are at.

The Gunners’ faint Premier League title hopes went with a whimper after a 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest handed City a fifth crown in six years.

Arsenal were insatiable for most of the campaign, spending 248 days on top of the table, and held an eight-point lead over City in March, but an alarming slide has seen them win just two of their last eight games.

That allowed them to be overtaken by Pep Guardiola’s relentless juggernaut, who have won 11 games in a row.

The Spaniard says Arsenal have to find a way to compete with City but it will not be a quick fix.

“This is my job, this is our job, and this is what this club deserves,” Arteta said.

“It wasn’t enough. I know we’re not at that level, but we have to find a way. This is not enough. It’s not going to change in three months time. We need to be at that level but we need to find other ways to do it.

“For example at Forest we needed to play much better. This is my responsibility.

“That’s why we have to push for that to happen. That’s not going to happen if we don’t make a lot of right decisions and think smart and have the mentality every day to get to that level.”

While Arsenal had a definitive outcome for their aspirations, so did Forest as they secured their Premier League status against the odds.

For large parts of the season, which began with more than 20 new signings, they looked destined to return straight back to the Championship, not least when they were on an 11-game winless run going into the end of April.

Boss Steve Cooper steered them away from danger, thanks to 10 points from the last five games, and he is thankful to the fans, who have been vociferous in their support throughout the campaign.

It looked possible that the Welshman could be sacked on two occasions during the campaign, but Forest fans voted with their feet and came out in unanimous support of their manager.

And Cooper will never forget that.

“My family and myself will be in debt to these supporters forever,” he said.

“What they have given me this year in an era of people always wanting change and having no patience, our supporters have been the complete opposite. They have been the best with me in some difficult times. That takes some doing.

“The whole sense of being part of something, being wanted and that sense of belonging is such a powerful feeling. Our supporters have set the standard for how to support a team.”

Bryan Mbeumo was happy to step up for Brentford in the absence of Ivan Toney in their 3-1 win at Tottenham.

The Bees were without 20-goal striker Toney, who has also been nursing a hamstring injury, after he was handed an eight-month ban by the Football Association on Thursday for repeated betting breaches.

When Harry Kane fired Spurs into an early lead, it looked like Brentford’s faint hopes of European football were about to end but Mbeumo struck twice in a 12-minute period at the start of the second half before setting up Yoane Wissa for the visitors’ third late on.

“Yeah, sensational. I can’t say more than this,” Mbeumo told BT Sport.

“The first half was a bit sloppy from us, in the duels we were not maybe there but in the second half everybody raised the level and it is a fantastic win.

“Of course it is hard because we lose a big personality on the pitch (in Toney) and yeah we have to do it as a team but I am happy to score.

“I always push myself as hard as I can and yeah, I want to push the level. I am very hard on myself but I am happy.

“We want to aim high, be high on the table and we still have one chance so we will do everything we can.”

Mbeumo received praise from manager Thomas Frank after he scored his eighth and ninth goals of the campaign.

Frank added: “He works so hard, is a fantastic pressing player and can score goals, assist and link up, but maybe he lacked goals (last season).

“Probably a little bit unlucky in some situations because he hit the post seven times last year so we’re talking about margins there.

“He does work very, very hard at his finishing and especially with Justin Cochrane but also Kevin O’Connor on those two finishes he made. So, I was very pleased to see his hard work pay off.”

Brentford’s win means they are guaranteed a ninth-place finish but victory on the final day at home to champions Manchester City could secure Europa Conference League football.

Frank knows revenge will be on the mind of Pep Guardiola’s side after they stunned them at the Etihad in November.

“We know we need Tottenham and (Aston) Villa to drop points on the last day when we are facing the best team in the world,” Frank smiled.

“So, it is a little bit of a challenge but we will do everything we can to make an absolutely outstanding season even better.”

Spurs’ acting head coach Ryan Mason was left bitterly disappointed by their latest defeat with their goals against tally now standing at 62, their worst in a Premier League campaign since 2003.

He admitted: “Obviously we’re conceding a lot of goals for different reasons.

“I thought we showed a lot of courage in the first half. We were brave, played a good match with the ball but in the second half the intensity dropped.”

Callum Wilson is in the form of his life as his goals edge Newcastle ever closer to Champions League qualification.

That is the view of Magpies head coach Eddie Howe, who worked with the England striker during the pair’s time together at Bournemouth before they were reunited at St James’ Park.

Wilson is enjoying the Premier League goals return of his career with 18 to date, the last 11 coming since the beginning of April and eight of them in his six most recent appearances, the perfect response to record signing Alexander Isak’s presence on Tyneside.

Asked if the 31-year-old’s rich vein of form was his best yet, Howe said with a smile: “He’ll probably tell me there’s been a better spell somewhere down the line, I imagine.

“The season he was in the Championship with us, my first season with him at Bournemouth, I thought he was electric.

“But this is at the very highest level, this is against the best defenders in the world, the best teams in the world and he’s performing at probably, I’d say, the best level I’ve ever seen him at.”

Wilson’s latest telling contribution came in Thursday night’s crucial 4-1 home victory over Brighton, which sends the Magpies into Monday’s clash with Leicester knowing Champions League qualification is firmly within their grasp.

With the score at 2-1 and barely a minute of normal time remaining, he broke and fired past keeper Jason Steele before racing clear once again to set up Bruno Guimaraes to score, although it was his all-round contribution which pleased Howe most.

The 45-year-old said: “I complimented him, not in terms of the goal he scored, but just his intelligence on the press for us because he is the one that has to set the chain off and he has to get it right.

“If he gets it wrong, the whole team suffers, so I thought his tactical understanding was as good as I’ve seen.”

The intensity Newcastle mustered against the Seagulls has become their trademark under Howe, and it is one of which he is justifiably proud.

He said: “You can’t promise the winning. In my first press conference here, I said I can’t promise that, but I can try to give a team that empties on the pitch, that gives everything every time we step on to it.

“That’s what I ask of the team, that’s what I ask of the players consistently. It’s easier said than done because in a long season, cup runs, naturally people will have off days, bad days, that’s just natural.

“But you can have a bad day and still give your all, and I’ve got to compliment the players on what they’ve done this year. The mindset and mentality of the group have been second to none.”

Frank Lampard has defended Chelsea’s decision not to allow Carney Chukwuemeka to join the England Under-20 squad for the World Cup in Argentina.

The 19-year-old is one of two players from the club to have been withheld from manager Ian Foster’s selection, with midfielder Lewis Hall also told he must stay for the remainder of the season.

Hall started as Chelsea drew with Nottingham Forest last weekend and Lampard has indicated he will play a part in his side’s remaining three matches, but Chukwuemeka has started only twice since December and has not been in the matchday squad for any of the last eight games.

Lampard said that owing to injuries the club deemed it necessary to keep the former Aston Villa player, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £20million deal last summer, available for the remainder of the season.

“He’s a Chelsea player and we’ve got injuries in that area,” said Lampard. “The situation with Carney is that he’s come into a club, it was a big move for him, and this season he hasn’t managed to get so many minutes. He’s settling in at a new club.

“Hopefully there’s opportunity in these three games for him and also he’s our player, and whilst we have lost players we need him to stay.

“There’s a possibility he can join up at the end of the season if the team gets through to the next stages. That might be the best of the both worlds in an ideal way.

“But he’s our player and we had to make the decision. Carney was keen to go, but at the same time what happened meant he had to stay.”

Chelsea take on the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday in what will be Pep Guardiola’s side’s first match since retaining the crown they have won in each of the previous two seasons. 

Their third straight title triumph was confirmed by Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

It is Guardiola’s fifth title since arriving in England in 2016 and his personal record could be further gilded in June if City add the FA Cup and Champions League to land the treble.

Lampard, who has lost six of his eight games in interim charge of Chelsea since being appointed in early April, was asked about the frustrations of struggling to replicate his success as a player since taking up management. 

“As a manager everyone’s situations are different,” said Lampard. “What club you work at, what is a version of success at the club that you work at.

“Knowing Pep a little bit and having watched him work for a couple of days when I’d finished playing, it’s clear that he’s got an incredible football brain and an amazing work ethic. I think if I can try and follow that in my own way, that’s the best I can do, that’s the way to do it.

“It’s not that hard, you just understand that going to Everton, trying to keep them in the league, it’s a compromise. You have to come and train and play different ways to get a result, which we did.

“When I had my first year at Chelsea and I came in and we had a young squad that were really willing to learn, to try and do the things wanted them to do, I think we got a really exciting team. 

“Everyone’s journey in management is different, because what you’re working with dictates sometimes in terms of how you might have to compromise. When you’re a player you just focus on yourself. As a manager you have to work around many more different variables.”

West Ham boss David Moyes has admitted he has been close to the sack several times this season.

The Scot has faced a number of so-called ‘must-win’ games throughout a turbulent Premier League campaign, but his side have delivered on each occasion.

The picture looks a lot brighter now, however, with West Ham safe from relegation and reaching an historic European final, their first in 47 years, in the Europa Conference League.

Should they beat Fiorentina in Prague on June 7 and lift a first trophy since the FA Cup in 1980, Moyes will have turned a disappointing campaign into one of the most successful in the club’s 128-year history.

“Seasons are long, and you never know how they are going to work out, but this could turn out to be one of West Ham’s best-ever seasons,” said Moyes.

“There’s still some work to be done in the Premier League, but finishing seventh and getting to the Europa League semi-finals last year was huge, and in some ways it’s probably taken its toll on us this season.

“But reaching a European final will make up for a lot of the other things that have happened this year.

“Sometimes, when things aren’t quite going right, you need to show a bit of resilience, and I’ve got to say there have been times this season when it was tough and there were bits that weren’t so enjoyable.

“On several occasions I could easily have lost my job, but you need good people who understand how you work and that makes life a lot easier and the board have been very supportive. In some ways, I hope this repays their faith in what they chose to do.

“I didn’t doubt myself, but I was more disappointed that I couldn’t quite get our rhythm back, but over my career I’ve managed to find ways of winning when my teams haven’t been doing so well.

“I’ve been brought back here twice before to help the club avoid relegation and on three occasions when we’ve been in this position we’ve managed to do that. I think I’m still able to find a way of winning games when it’s required.”

West Ham face Leeds on Sunday in what looks likely to be captain Declan Rice’s final home match before a summer move away.

“If he’s selected,” added Moyes. “In truth I don’t want to get into the Declan question because we’re asked about it every week. He’s still a hugely important player to us and we really hope he will be a West Ham player.

“He’s a leader and he takes a lot on, but he’s still a young boy – and he’s a young player who’s already been in two European semi-finals and now he’s going to a final as captain of the team.”

Pep Guardiola accepts his Manchester City side must not only win the Champions League, but do it more than once to be regarded among the greats.

The City manager has no doubts about the brilliance of his team but, despite their near dominance of the Premier League in recent seasons, he feels they need European success to truly make their mark on history.

City are now strong favourites to win the Champions League for the first time this season after powering into next month’s final against Inter Milan with a crushing win over holders Real Madrid in midweek.

Guardiola said: “The team is really good but I agree with the media or when people say you have to lift Europe, and you have to lift it again, to be considered in the same type as ‘other’ teams.

“Those teams win in Europe, not just once, but many times. We have not.”

City have been the pre-eminent force in domestic football since Guardiola took charge at the Etihad Stadium in 2016 but they have endured a catalogue of near-misses in the Champions League.

The closest they have come to success is when they were beaten in the 2021 final by Chelsea.

Guardiola said: “The joy (of winning) is so nice. It is amazing being here. Nothing is going to change for us if we lift it, but if we want to be considered one of the best teams, we have to win the Champions League.

“My opinion is not going to change but to be in the books – the real books – we have to be there.”

Guardiola has made a huge impression on English football as a whole and raised standards in terms of results and style of play.

Yet despite steering his side towards a glorious treble this term, he remains modest about the scale of his own contribution.

“English football belongs to England,” he said. “Every manager has his own ideas but I didn’t change anything, honestly.”

Eddie Howe has admitted he will never be able to bask in glory no matter what he achieves at Newcastle.

The 45-year-old has guided the club to the brink of Champions League qualification in his first full season in charge.

A win over Premier League strugglers Leicester at St James’ Park on Monday will be enough to seal a top-four place.

But even ending a 20-year wait to return to the big stage, at the end of a campaign which also included a first major cup final appearance since 1999, would not satisfy the Magpies’ head coach.

Asked if that was just the way he is, Howe said: “Unfortunately, yes, which means you’re on sort of a conveyor belt that you can’t get off.

“Everyone will say: ‘That’s a great achievement’. All I can think of is that next challenge coming and then being prepared for that next challenge because you can’t sit back and say: ‘Right, I’m going to take a month off and go and relax on a beach’.

“It’s the opposite, it’s: ‘Okay, how can we best now succeed in that next phase?’ So it is very much you’re always on a cycle of trying to improve.”

Newcastle’s rise since Amanda Staveley’s consortium completed its takeover in October 2021 has been meteoric and, while the Saudi-backed owners have ploughed more than £250million into the playing squad, the impact made by Howe and his staff has been remarkable.

A unity of purpose has been fostered through the club, and the former Bournemouth boss revealed Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi remain very much at the centre of that.

Howe said: “I invited Amanda and Mehrdad up to speak to the squad, I think it was 10 days ago roughly, just to have that contact with them, with the owners because it’s so important as a club we’re one from top to bottom.

“They came in, they spoke to the players, they were absolutely brilliant. It was a nice moment, actually, just for everyone in the room to consolidate their thoughts on each other and then try to focus on the last few games that we had, and it made a positive impact on us.”

Should Monday pan out as Newcastle hope, the focus will switch to summer recruitment in preparation for a challenge which will have arrived unexpectedly quickly, although Howe is realistic about what Staveley and her partners will be able to do.

He said: “Regardless of what happens, we’re not going to have a bottomless pit. We will be under tight constraints. Whatever we do in the transfer market, we’re going to have to be very smart.

“In the three transfer windows I’ve had, we’ve been excellent and we have to continue that.”

Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan praised a collective effort after Pep Guardiola’s side were crowned Premier League champions once again following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

The Gunners needed to win to delay City’s title celebrations ahead of their home match against Chelsea on Sunday.

However, Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half goal proved enough to give Forest victory in front of a raucous home crowd, which secured their own top-flight status once again.

Guardiola’s side will lift the Premier League trophy on Sunday for a third successive campaign, and a fifth time in six seasons, sealed with three matches to spare.

City had overhauled Arsenal’s eight-point lead as Mikel Arteta’s men faltered, winning 11 Premier League games in a row including a 4-1 victory over their rivals at the end of April.

Unbeaten in their last 23 games through all competitions, City have also reached the finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League as they remain on course for the treble.

“To have helped the club win a third straight Premier League title is something very special,” Gundogan said on the Manchester City website.

“The Premier League is without doubt the most demanding and competitive league in the world so that tells you everything about what an achievement this is.

“This squad is so talented and so special and to have been captain this season has been an enormous privilege.”

German midfielder Gundogan added: “I would also like to thank Pep, all the backroom staff and everyone who works across this football club.

“Every single day they help provide us as players with everything we need in order to try to be successful. There is no way we could have won this title without all their support.

“To have won this trophy three times in a row and five times in six years is incredible. That quality and consistency helps sum up what Manchester City stand for and ensures the club will continue to strive for success going forward.

“It has been a season I will never forget. Our amazing fans have been with us every single step of the way.

“Without their amazing backing I don’t think there is any way we would have been able to achieve what we have done these past six seasons.

“Their passion and support have been so important and inspirational for us all. Hopefully winning the Premier League title again is a fitting way for us to say thank you to our fans.”

Erling Haaland’s goals helped fire City to the title, as the Norway forward set a new Premier League record with 36 so far.

He wrote on Twitter: “Always give your best. Always believe. It pays off. C’MON CITY!”

City defender Aymeric Laporte posted: “What a season tho. Credit to absolutely everyone involved from top to bottom.

“Every one of use fought for this. More to come soon hopefully but we can already be proud of this one.”

Arsenal had been insatiable for most of the campaign, spending 248 days on top of the table before their late collapse handed City an opportunity to ruthlessly hunt them down.

City defender Kyle Walker said: “Arsenal pushed us right to the limit they’ve been fantastic, so all credit to them.

“We just went on an incredible run, they had a few hiccups and we capitalised on it and we’ve managed to end up where we have now.

“It’s the players we’ve got. We’re a bunch of lads who have achieved so much over the last number of years and we understand the standards we’ve set.

“We achieved so much over the past five or six years, but we knew the bar wasn’t high enough at the start of the season.

“When we came back after the World Cup, we had to kick on and fair play to the lads.

“We wanted to prove anyone doubting us wrong – it wasn’t good enough.

“With the lads we have in the dressing room we always believe we can do something.

“The standards of the Premier League have gone up, but this is what this club is built for, certainly that’s how it’s been for the six years I’ve been here, so fair play to everyone involved.

“You’ve got to be ready at the business end of the season because that’s what this club is all about and what we are built for.”

Mikel Arteta was apologetic as he reflected on a “really sad day” after Arsenal’s faint Premier League title hopes were ended by a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Manchester City were confirmed as champions after Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half goal saw Forest earn the three points that secured their top-flight status.

The Gunners, who were insatiable for most of the campaign, had spent 248 days on top of the table and held an eight-point lead over City in March, but an alarming slide saw them overtaken by Pep Guardiola’s relentless juggernaut who claim a fifth title in six seasons.

No team has spent more time on top of the table and not won the league, which left Arteta crestfallen.

“Really sad day, a lot of difficult emotions, we lost the game, we lost the championship after 10 and a half months fighting for it and nine and a half months almost on top of it,” he said.

“We built a lot of illusion and belief that we could go all the way and win it and in the end we fell short. Congratulations to Man City, they are the champions, they deserve to be the champions, they have done it for 38 games, we haven’t been able to do that.

“That is it and from my side I apologise because we have built that belief that we could do it and in the end the team wasn’t able to do it and that is my responsibility.

“Today is just a lot of sadness. You see a lot of people, they put everything, they put so much work, so much belief and so much hours and I am sad, I am sad for them because we wanted to find a way and squeeze everything we had in that group.

“We fell short and this is my job and my responsibility, I have to analyse that and think.

“Today we should have played much better, we gave them a goal and gave them another chance to score another goal if they wanted and we fell short to break them down.

“You need, when you come to April and May, 24 players there and available, fit and playing at their best, full of confidence and ready to go and for many reasons we haven’t had that.

“There are key moments in the league that define, the momentum goes there, the result goes there and we didn’t have those margins going on our side.”

For Forest it was a real red letter day as they secured their survival against the odds.

For large parts of the season, which began with more than 20 new signings, they looked destined to return straight back to the Championship, not least when they were on an 11-game winless run going into the end of April.

But Awoniyi’s hot streak, with five goals in three games, helped Steve Cooper’s side lift themselves out of the bottom three and they can no longer be caught by Southampton, Leicester or Everton.

It completes an impressive job by Cooper, who repaid Forest for the faith they showed when backing him amid their poor run, and his stock continues to rise.

Asked how he felt, the Welshman said: “Just pride, a great sense of belonging at being part of something really special and important for me.

“A brilliant day for the players and an equally great day for the supporters and one we deserved. It is difficult to use the word achievement at this football club because you have to be careful but it is just amazing to be able to allow the club to move forward, that’s what we all want to do.

“Now is the time to talk about the players, the supporters and the game. It is a real sense of belonging and being part of something greater than any one person.

“This was always going to be my toughest coaching challenge, but an enjoyable one, not a negative one. We have had everything this year, both positive and negative.

“It feels great, but I am more thinking about it just allows us to progress.”

Erling Haaland led Manchester City to the Premier League title with a record 36 goals.

The Norwegian beat the record of 34, set in the league’s early 42-game seasons by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer, and smashed Mohamed Salah’s 38-game record of 32.

With up to three league games remaining for Haaland, the PA news agency looks at his record in his debut season in England.

Hot-shot Haaland

From the moment Haaland announced himself with a brace against West Ham on his Premier League debut, he has proved a relentless threat to opposing defences.

He scored a record nine in his first five games, with hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, and equalled Micky Quinn’s six-game record to reach double figures.

Further trebles against Manchester United and Wolves made it four for the season, one off Shearer’s record of five in 1995-96, with Haaland adding five doubles for good measure.

In all, he has scored in 23 of his 33 league appearances and against 16 different opponents.

He failed to score in his one league appearance against Liverpool, or in their Community Shield clash, but did score in the Carabao Cup fourth-round tie. Brentford and Chelsea are the other names missing from the list, with return fixtures against those two clubs still to come.

Golden Boot winners

Haaland began hauling in previous Golden Boot-winning tallies as early as November 5 after 18 goals in his first 12 games.

The 23-goal mark that has won the last three awards lasted only until January’s hat-trick against Wolves, which accounted for nine previous Golden Boot seasons in all, while he matched Salah in 28 appearances and Shearer and Cole in 30 on his way to inevitably adding a first Norwegian name to the roll of honour.

18 goals – Michael Owen, Dion Dublin and Chris Sutton 1997-98; Owen, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dwight Yorke 1998-99
Appearances: 12
v Fulham (H), November 5

19 – Nicolas Anelka 2008-09
Appearances: 14
v Leeds (A), December 28

20 – Didier Drogba 2006-07; Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez 2010-11
Appearances: 14
v Leeds (A), December 28

22 – Teddy Sheringham 1992-93; Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 2018-19
Appearances: 18
v Tottenham (H), January 19

23 – Hasselbaink 2000-01; Jamie Vardy 2019-20; Harry Kane 2020-21; Salah and Son Heung-min 2021-22
Appearances: 19
v Wolves (H), January 22

24 – Thierry Henry 2001-02
Appearances: 19
v Wolves (H), January 22

25 – Alan Shearer 1996-97; Ruud van Nistelrooy 2002-03; Henry 2004-05; Kane 2015-16
Appearances: 19
v Wolves (H), January 22

26 – Robin van Persie 2012-13; Sergio Aguero 2014-15
Appearances: 22
v Arsenal (A), February 15

27 – Henry 2005-06
Appearances: 24
v Bournemouth (A), February 25

29 – Drogba 2009-10; Kane 2016-17
Appearances: 27
v Southampton (A), April 8

30 – Kevin Phillips 1999-2000; Henry 2003-04; Van Persie 2011-12
Appearances: 27
v Southampton (A), April 8

31 – Shearer 1995-96; Cristiano Ronaldo 2007-08; Luis Suarez 2013-14
Appearances: 28
v Leicester (H), April 15

32 – Salah 2017-18
Appearances: 28
v Leicester (H), April 15

34 – Andy Cole 1993-94; Shearer 1994-95
Appearances: 30
v Fulham (A), April 30

Manchester City sowed the seeds for their latest title success before they had even completed their 2022 triumph.

In May last year, as the team fought hard on the field to hold off the challenge of Liverpool, off it the top brass agreed a deal with Borussia Dortmund to sign Erling Haaland.

It was a bold statement by a club used to making bold statements.

The prolific Norwegian striker joined them in the summer and, almost instantly, an already formidable team became a seemingly unstoppable force.

Obviously it was not quite so straightforward, but after City’s powerful spring charge – when they reeled in and then flew past Arsenal without even a hint of feeling pressure – few could argue they are now one of the greatest teams to have graced the Premier League.

Haaland has been at the heart of it, scoring a barely believable and record-breaking 36 league goals so far in the process.

He not only surpassed the greats of the past, but left them trailing in his wake.

He overtook the previous record mark of 34 – set by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer in 42-game seasons in the mid-1990s – with five matches to spare.

He helped himself to four hat-tricks and formed a potent combination with the team’s chief playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne.

Rarely has a player made as big an impact as Haaland has and, given how City have adapted and improved around him as the season has gone on, there would seem to be plenty more to come.

Yet while Haaland may have been a hugely significant factor in City’s fifth title in six seasons, it would be unfair to give him all the credit.

De Bruyne has enjoyed another highly influential campaign, laying on 16 assists and scoring seven goals himself. Jack Grealish, now looking far more comfortable with his £100million tag, has also been a driving force while Rodri has developed into one of the strongest midfielders in the game and John Stones has excelled in a hybrid defence-midfield role.

Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Nathan Ake have also made big contributions at different times.

The key once again, however, has been the man in charge, Pep Guardiola. The inspirational Catalan has produced another masterclass of management, underlining his pre-eminence in the game and strengthening his position among the greats.

After two successive title wins with false nines or makeshift centre-forwards, Haaland’s arrival signalled a change of approach from the former Barcelona boss.

Initially there were doubts, with fears Haaland’s presence might disrupt City’s natural flow. Indeed, early on, it did seem his goals were masking some disjointed and indifferent performances.

Form either side of the World Cup break was patchy and underwhelming and allowed Arsenal to take early control of the race.

Yet Guardiola worked through the inconsistencies and ironed out the problems, with excellent man-management, tactical nous and his ferocious winning mentality. There were some well-timed criticisms, surprise selection calls and eyebrow-raising departures – Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo – all of which have been vindicated as City came good when it really mattered.

Arsenal obviously let a strong position slip but, in a disrupted season, when City had more players at the World Cup than any other club, Guardiola paced the challenge perfectly. To have maintained intensity while also competing in two other competitions makes it all the more remarkable.

City still have to win two more finals to complete a glorious treble, but their Premier League success alone is a phenomenal achievement.

Manchester City have won the Premier League for a third successive year and a fifth time in six seasons.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key players in their latest triumph.

Erling Haaland

The Norwegian has been an absolute sensation, scoring a record – and scarcely believable – 36 goals in City’s successful campaign. People doubted whether he would be able to maintain the phenomenal scoring rate of his early career once he arrived in the Premier League following his £51million move from Borussia Dortmund but he quickly dispelled their reservations. He formed a potent partnership with Kevin De Bruyne and bagged four hat-tricks along the way. City had to adjust their playing style to accommodate him, and this was seen as a factor in their early to mid-season inconsistency, but things had truly clicked by the run-in as City reeled in, then stormed past, Arsenal.

Kevin De Bruyne

It may not have been a vintage De Bruyne season, and some of Guardiola’s comments about him at times suggested the manager was not entirely satisfied with the Belgian, but he still produced another highly effective campaign. He truly got going and delivered when it really mattered as City entered the run-in, with his statistics again impressive. He contributed 16 assists, and while that figure is also testament to the brilliance of Haaland’s finishing, it is five more than anyone else in the competition. He also weighed in with seven goals.

Jack Grealish

It has taken time for Grealish to live up to his £100million billing but his second season at the club has been a considerable improvement on his first. There were some impressive performances in the early part of the campaign and since the World Cup he has reached that level on a consistent basis. He now seems more confident on the ball and has been harder for defenders to knock off it, while also showing a greater ability to pick out his team-mates. His progress has been good and City will hope there is more to come.

John Stones

The second half of the season saw Stones successfully combine all facets of his game. The England centre-back’s defending has improved considerably in recent years and, now comfortable in that role, he is confident enough to step into midfield when City are in possession. With his ball-playing ability, this defence-midfield hybrid role has added an extra dimension to the team’s play.

Rodri

The Spaniard’s influence in the City midfield has grown steadily since his arrival in 2019 and this season has seen him come of age. Physically strong and highly energetic, Rodri has been City’s driving force. He reads the game superbly, breaks up opposition attacks and powers forward. His passing ability and vision have been excellent with the likes of Haaland, De Bruyne and Grealish all benefiting enormously.

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