Although the season is 38 matches long, there are some games that usually stand out as particularly special. Here are a few of those matches that were vital to the blues success.
12th August – Arsenal
The blues were pitched at Arsenal on the opening day of the season, a match which some predicted would be a tough test for the champions. The Gunners had appointed new boss Unai Emery to replace Arsene Wenger, and the new boss was eager to impress the home fans, while City started their season at a place where winning was rare, despite a 3-0 victory at The Emirates last season.
As it turned out, the blues had nothing to worry. The blues took the lead after just 14 minutes of the new season thanks to Raheem Sterling, and Bernardo Silva made the game safe for City on 64 minutes.
This match was as vital to the blues as any throughout the season. It was a clear signal of intent from City, beating a rival top six side on their home patch sent a huge message to the others that the blues were not going to give up their title so easily.
7th October – Liverpool
Another place where the blues have not enjoyed much success, City’s history at Anfield consisted of numerous defeats, with a few draws thrown in between. City lost their first game here last season, when the reds won 4-3 and the blues were eager to make amends for that defeat. And how close they came.
85 goalless minutes had been played out when Leroy Sane was brought down by Van Dijk and the referee awarded the blues a penalty, which Mahrez blazed over the bar. Had that gone in, it would have sent City two points clear at the top, but it was another statement from the blues that they were not going to roll over, especially against other big six teams.
3rd January – Liverpool
By the time City faced Liverpool for the home return, the visitors had overtaken the blues at the top of the league and lead the blues by seven points, had had a golden chance to move ten points clear. City, who lost three of their seven matches in December, couldn’t afford to fall further behind in the title race.
If the game is only remembered for one thing, it has to be an amazing clearance by John Stones. Sadio Mane’s shot hit the post and Stones clearance hit Ederson and rolled back towards the line. Stones recovered and not only cleared before the whole of the ball crossed the line, but nutmegged the onrushing Salah in the process. It was subsequently shown that just 1.12cm of the ball had failed to cross the line.
City responded with a brilliant goal from Sergio Aguero, and despite and equaliser from Firmino in the 64th minute, Leroy Sane won the match for the blues with a left foot finish that went in off the post.
It was a deserved, yet vital win for the blues, which cut Liverpool’s lead to just four points, and set up and incredible finish to the season
29th January – Newcastle
Following the Liverpool game, City won all of their following six matches without conceding a goal, while scoring an amazing 28 goals at the same time. Newcastle was a place where the blues had won countless times previously, and when Sergio Aguero gave City the lead in the first minute, it looked like the blues would walk away from St James’s Park with another three points.
But Newcastle had other ideas and levelled on 66 minutes, before the blues conceded a penalty with ten minutes remaining, which Matt Ritchie converted. City couldn’t find a way back and suffered a major setback in their pursuit of successive titles.
Although the defeat at Newcastle was bad, with many blues already throwing in the towel, it would kickstart a run that would end at Brighton, with the blues looking to secure the title.
6th February – Everton
There were a few matches around this one that were vital to the blues, but this match was seen as the most difficult. City had beaten Arsenal 3-1 at home and had Chelsea to come, but it was how Everton were going to play that was the real talking point. Questions were asked about whether the blue side of Liverpool would put up a fight, or would they roll over to prevent their neighbours from potentially winning the league. Liverpool fans were hoping for a favour, and they nearly got one, until Aymeric Laporte gave the blues the lead on the stroke of half time.
Everton didn’t offer much back, but it was still a nervy second half for the blues until Gabriel Jesus secured the points in injury time.
The result sent City top again on goal difference after Liverpool had stuttered with back to back draws.
April was a telling month for the blues. Away matches at Palace, Spurs and Burnley would be a huge test of City’s character and title credentials, while an FA Cup semi-final and a Champions League quarter final were also thrown into the mix.
The blues made it to Wembley by beating a tough Brighton side, but struggled again in the Champions League and suffered the heartbreak of a disallowed VAR goal which would have sent them through. Sandwiched in between was a match at Selhurst Park. Palace had already beaten the blues in Manchester and wanted to become the first side to record successive victories over City. The blues were 2-0 up and cruising when Palace pulled a goal back, but it was Jesus again that made the points safe in the final minute.
The next three matches would also be decisive and the blues cam through them all. A 1-0 home win against Spurs, was followed up with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford. Then came the moment that City fans realised luck was on our side.
Burnley were holding the blues to a goalless draw, when Aguero’s 64th minute effort was adjudged to have crossed the line by millimetres. The 1-0 victory sent the blues back to the top, one point clear with two games remaining.
6th May – Leicester
Liverpool had returned to the top of the table over the weekend, and the pressure was again on the blues to get a result. City had won the last 12 Premier League matches, but no the pressure was really on. And it showed.
A nervous City just couldn’t break down the stubborn Leicester defence, and it was down to the legend that is Vincent Kompany to win the match. 25 yards out, space opened up for Kompany and the Belgian hit a wonder shot that flew Kasper Schmeichal and into the top corner.
It was a wonder strike that deserved to win any game. For City, it was the one that won them the Premier League.
May 12th – Brighton
The blues had won 13 games on the trot, conceding just three goals on that run. Brighton on the other hand, just couldn’t find the net, so it was a major surprise when the home side took the lead on 27 minutes. Liverpool fans delight on Merseyside quickly turned to delirium when Aguero levelled seconds later, before goals from Laporte, Mahrez and Gundogan gave the blue the title in style.