The end of the Premier League season on Sunday, and finally the ridiculously tight title race, was shocking and thrilling, with big twists and turns along the way. It was also, somehow, familiar. Three years ago, Manchester City came back from a last-day deficit to beat Liverpool in a dramatic fashion to win the Premier League title. Yesterday, Manchester City came back from a huge final-day deficit to come back and beat Liverpool even more dramatically in the Premier League title. Once again the excitement has turned into joy for City fans, hope has turned into despair for Liverpool fans, while everyone else has been able to enjoy an exciting ending to this crazy ride.
Despite trailing by two goals to Aston Villa in the 75th minute of the final game on Sunday, City regained life and glory, winning 3-2 with three goals in almost five minutes, the club winning its fourth league title. In the era of Pep Guardiola. At some point on Sunday, Man City were actually behind Liverpool at the table, although it seemed certain that the ruling champions had blown it away for a while. Aston Villa took the lead in the 37th minute through a Matty Cash header, which increased the pressure on the Citizens. After former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho added a second Villa goal in the 69th minute, it looked as if we were witnessing a historic collapse in creation:
At the moment of Coutinho’s goal, a roar at Anfield indicates to Liverpool players that there is a chance. If City had been in danger, Liverpool would have been in the sector of hope: Wolverhampton Wanderers’ early goal put the Reds on the back foot, but the hosts slowly took control of the game. Sadio equalized after Thiago’s great flick in the 24th minute, but Liverpool had to win and hopefully at a very bad time, Villa would hold on for a draw against City.
Yet, despite the possession and shot advantage over the Wolves, Liverpool could not break into a very exciting second half where fans kept an eye on the field and the other on their phones. Liverpool took the lead in the 74th minute through a noise in the penalty box and Mohamed Salah’s poke-in.
But Salah’s goal came too late. Maybe, if Liverpool had taken the lead over the Wolves when Manchester City were still losing to Villa, it might have proved too much for the Citizens to overcome the pressure. Instead, Salah scored after City had already blocked his return, and that’s it. History has not just repeated for Liverpool; The rearrangement was even worse. Thanks to some formidable defense and goalkeeping from Aston Villa, City were able to deal with their opponents and Liverpool with a proxy – which Real Madrid did in the Champions League semi-final.
It started and ended with Ilke Gundogan. The midfielder subdued and started work in the 68th minute, giving City more of a bite from the depths of the box than an unlisted opening hour-plus. First, for the Gundogan City opener, Rahim got the sterling cross at the back post, completely unmarked. Then, teammate Alexander Ginchenko finds Rodri at the top of the box and the Spanish midfielder passes the ball into the goal. Eventually, Gundogan found himself in the same back post as the first goal, and found the German for a fantastic Kevin de Bruyne low cross game – and the title winner:
It’s not as heartbreaking as the famous comeback in 2012, where City scored two goals in stoppage time to steal the title from Manchester United, but it’s close. A hyper-compressed example of what City did throughout the season in the 76th and 81st minutes on Sunday: it launched Jet, showing that it has more talent than anyone and has overwhelmed a tired opponent. No one in the world has been able to score as many goals in a row as fast as City, which is why this season has come down to one last floor, the perfect ending for another squirrel in a title race.
If there is any consolation for Liverpool, they have already ended the drought of the Premier League title in the coveted-suffering 2019-20 season; Sure, it doesn’t hurt as much as it did in 2019. Like that season, Liverpool are awaiting the Champions League final to ease some of this domestic pain, only this time around they have had a chance to complete a cup of treble, having already won the league and the FA Cup.
With that in mind, the main concern for Liverpool – mentally out of the need to overcome this Premier League deficit – will be the health of Thiago, who was injured in stoppage time in the first half against the Wolves. The club will likely need No. 6 against Real Madrid in the Champions League fixtures, and a six-day interval between games here will not be helpful for the Spanish international. Still, though, Liverpool have a chance to shake off his current frustration, something he would have missed if City had collapsed.
It didn’t, though, and it was a deserving title for City in a season that deserved it in the end. These two clubs can’t really avoid each other, they have won the most recent five titles, twice a point apart. It remains to be seen whether City will return to their more impressive win with the addition of Erling Holland, especially since Liverpool will reload as always; The addition of the extremely calm and good Luis Diaz in January was the first step there. I can’t promise that the Premier League will come down again on the final day of next season, but I will not bet against it. The margin between Manchester City and Liverpool is too thin to believe otherwise.