When Manchester City trudged off the field on 27th September, they looked like a well-beaten side, devoid of fight and lacking the energy for a long hard season fighting for four trophies. Fast forward to May and that 5-2 hammering by Leicester is a distant memory as City won the league in style.
Here, we look at five key games that were important victories during City’s title triumph.
Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal
When Mikel Arteta brought his Arsenal side to Manchester, there were signs that a Gunners recovery were on the horizon. Arsenal were 4th in the table, having won 3 out of their opening four matches, while the match was City’s first at home since the 5-2 mauling to Leicester.
Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute as City got their first home win of the season. The match wasn’t without a little controversy as critics raged at Sergio Aguero, who put his arm on the neck of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis, but he escaped any punishment.
Manchester City 5-0 Burnley
City’s annual 5-0 thrashing of Burnley came at the end of November and was their first league game since a 2-0 defeat at Spurs. It also came off the back of a 1-0 away win at Olympiakos in the Champions League.
Burnley must hate their yearly trip to East Manchester as Riyad Mahrez hit goals in the 6th and 22nd minute, while Benjamin Mendy added a third before the break. Ferran Torres scored on 66 minutes and Mahrez completed his hat-trick three minutes later.
It was a vital win for City, who managed to stay in the hunt with a well-needed three points.
Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa
City’s sixth match in 20 days in January saw Aston Villa arrive. At the time, Villa had a better away record than City, having won five of their eight away matches, but hadn’t played since New Year’s Day due to an outbreak of Covid-19.
And this was another match that was met with a little controversy. In the 79th minute with the score at 0-0, midfielder Rodri came from an offside position behind Tyrone Mings and dispossessed the defender. The challenge led to Bernardo Silva scoring, but questions were raised about the validity of the goal. Rodri was indeed offside, but since Mings attempted to control the ball forward, it brought the Spanish midfielder into play and the goal stood.
Ilkay Gundogan converted a late penalty after Gabriel Jesus’ header was handled on the line and City ran away with the points.
Manchester City 3-0 Spurs
City’s irresistible surge to the top of the table continued as Jose Mourinho’s Spurs continued their freefall from the Premier League summit to 9th place, as City secured their 16th straight win.
In the 23rd minute, City were awarded a penalty when Gundogan was brought down and, considering how many times the blues had already missed from the spot, Ederson decided it was his turn to take one. Bernardo Silva prevented him and Rodri assumed the responsibility. Although the Spaniard tried to miss, the ball nested in the corner of the goal.
Gundogan then continued his fine scoring form with a brace after the break. Five minutes in, he converted Sterling’s pass, then received Ederson’s long ball forward to slot home City’s third.
Manchester City 5-2 Southampton
City’s long winning streak had come to an abrupt end three days earlier as they lost 2-0 at home to the Stretford Rangers, and Southampton’s early season form had seen them drop down the table.
Kevin de Bruyne had given City the lead after 15 minutes, but ten minutes later, James Ward-Prowse had drawn Saints level from the penalty spot. Phil Foden was then denied a penalty due to his honesty when he stayed on his feet after a challenge by the Saints keeper and it looked like the blues would struggle to get anything further from the game.
Two goals in five minutes form Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan put City 3-1 up at the break. Mahrez made it 4-1 on 55 minutes, Che Adams pulled a goal back a minute later, before de Bruyne collected Foden’s pass and charged through the visitors defence, before firing home.