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English Premier League

Manchester City 3-1 West Ham United

Manchester City 3 -1 West Ham United

Manchester City 3-1 West Ham United. Imperious Manchester City beat West Ham 3-1 at Etihad Stadium to become the first team to win the English league title four seasons in a row.

With City needing a win to be sure of holding off Arsenal, who started the final day two points behind but with a better goal difference, Phil Foden put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead after just two minutes.

The England star added another before the break and although Mohammed Kudus pulled one back, midfielder Rodri restored the home side’s two-goal cushion with a shot from the edge of the area after 59 minutes.

City survived a late scare when West Ham had a second goal ruled out by VAR for handball.

However, their victory was never seriously in doubt

The win completed a staggering run of 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa on 6 December.

City have now won six out of the past seven Premier League titles. Last term, they joined Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, twice, in winning the top flight three years in a row.

Now Guardiola’s team have achieved something no other men’s side has managed since the English league was formed in 1888, 136 years ago.

On 25 May they will aim to become the first side to complete the domestic Double in successive seasons when they face Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

It is 15 months since City were hit with 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularity, which they strongly deny.

Foden has already collected the Football Writers’ Association and Premier League Player of the Year awards. Few would argue against a clean sweep when the Professional Footballers’ Association eventually confirms theirs.

At 23, Foden now has six titles to his name. He is still a long way behind Ryan Giggs, who holds the record with 13.

However, it is worth noting Giggs did not achieve his sixth until he was 26 and while the Welshman was 39 when he got his last, given City’s current dominance, Foden is likely to keep chipping away at that total in the short term.

Guardiola feels there is further improvement in the England international, but he has already developed his all-round game, makes better runs with and without the ball, and his close control is sublime.

James Ward-Prowse must have felt he was chasing shadows as he closed in to make a tackle when Bernardo Silva provided Foden with a square pass. But with one touch, Foden ghosted away from the West Ham man before delivering the perfect finish.

There was no real evidence of nerves in the crowd before kick-off. City had not lost at home all season and they had a 100% winning record against West Ham on home soil since Guardiola arrived in 2016.

The visitors had nothing to play for, manager David Moyes is leaving and top-scorer Jarrod Bowen was ruled out with tonsillitis.

But any home anxiety that did exist was rapidly swept away.

Foden’s second – his 26th goal of the season – wasn’t long in arriving as Jeremy Doku delivered a slide-rule, square pass through a crowd of bodies to the edge of the six-yard area. Foden was calmness personified in a frantic situation and found the net with a first-time finish.

Only a bit of bad luck and West Ham keeper Alphonse Areola prevented West Ham being completely swept away in the first half hour.

The France keeper turned away De Bruyne’s vicious free-kick, repelled Doku twice and also denied Manuel Akanji. Rodri, Erling Haaland, acrobatically, and Josko Gvardiol all missed the target from reasonably close range.

Guardiola spoke in the build-up about West Ham’s four brilliant attacking players, who could create something from nothing.

Bowen was absent but Kudus had already forced Stefan Ortega into a save before pulling a goal back with a superb overhead kick just before the break.

It was then that Guardiola turned into his most expressive on the sidelines as his insatiable desire to win took over.

The Catalan’s reaction to a near miss from Foden was to spin round with his head in his hands, while a seemingly routine passage of play down the City left immediately in front of him prompted wild applause.

As he saw Rodri’s shot hit the net – a goal reminiscent of his Champions League winner against Inter Milan in June – Guardiola clenched his fists and drew them to his body in satisfaction before turning round to pick out the familiar faces of chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and chief executive Ferran Soriano in the stand high above him in salute at another piece of silverware collected.

Guardiola has now won 12 league titles in 15 seasons as a manager, 16 years if you include the sabbatical he took when he left Barcelona in 2012.

It cannot be denied he has presided over top-class squads assembled at vast cost. However, that is to ignore the fact other clubs have spent just as much without achieving anything like the same success.

On the day Liverpool bade farewell to his old managerial adversary in both Germany and England Jurgen Klopp, there can be no debate in silverware terms who has won the personal battle. In recent English football history, only Sir Alex Ferguson can be mentioned as inhabiting the same stratospheric levels.

source – BBC

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