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Man City Beat Brighton & Hove Albion To Retain Premier League Title

 Premier League title drought for Liverpool continues
Sergio Aguero brilliant equalizer after Glenn Murray put Beat Brighton & Hove Albion in front set the pace for Man City that ran down their opponent 4-1 to retain the Premier League title.

Retaining it is never easy. Arsene Wenger could not do it at Arsenal. Don Revie never did it with Leeds. Nor did Bill Shankly at Liverpool. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea rewrote the record books, but a repeat was beyond him. And had a soothsayer told Pep Guardiola that 98 points would be the magic number to keep the trophy this season, he would probably have considered that feat beyond him, too.

What team can get 198 points across two seasons? The sort of team that can win 14 straight games under quite incredible pressure, perhaps.

After losing at Newcastle on January 29, we now know City would have to win every remaining league game this season to stay out of Liverpool’s reach. Had that been understood as the task on that night, few would have predicted City would be lifting the trophy on May 12.

It’s not about the money. There are plenty of clubs that have money. Manchester United had more money than their rivals for over a decade until Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. They did not rack up 100 points in a season; or 98; or even 97.

So first, how about Liverpool? We’ll get back to City in a minute. How about the team that lost one game all season, achieved the third highest top division points total in the history of English football and, somehow, it still wasn’t quite good enough. Manchester City should thank heavens for them, too.

Nothing underscores the brilliance of Pep Guardiola’s team more than the presence of Liverpool a short neck behind. Liverpool are, without doubt, one of the greatest teams the competition has ever seen. Just one draw for City in these final months – away to Everton, at Manchester United, at home to Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea – and Liverpool would have won the league.

And all this was achieved with the pressure of knowing that, too. From a long way out, Guardiola has been convinced Liverpool would win their remaining games. He knew City had to, as well. Lesser teams would have cracked, if only once. And once would have been all it needed. Encapsulating this campaign is a battle of superlatives. Liverpool were amazingly good; incredibly, City were even better.

For Guardiola, this was a unique title, too. Since leaving Barcelona he tends to conclude these things in cruise control. His last four titles have been won by a combined 58 points – and none by less than a ten point margin. So this would have felt different; and it showed.

Guardiola may have spoken of sleeping like a baby, but at times on Sunday he appeared nervous as a kitten. The pre-match warm-up found him sitting alone on the bench, drumming his fingers on the seat; and when Kyle Walker gave the ball away to spark a counter-attack by Alireza Jahanbaksh in the first-half, he sunk to his knees, head in hands. And that was before Liverpool scored.

This they did 17 minutes in; meaning with the teams tied here, Liverpool had returned to the top of the table. There was only one thing that could make it worse, and then that happened, too: Brighton also scored.

Interesting statistic about Manchester City this season. They have conceded more goals from set pieces, as a percentage, than any other team in the Premier League. So they remained consistent to the end. Ederson fumbled a Glenn Murray shot around for a corner, taken by Pascal Gross.

It was a fine delivery, whipped in towards the near post, but neither Ederson nor his defenders dealt with it, and Murray was there to head in. One can only imagine how that news was greeted at Anfield. Even more deliriously perhaps, than on the south coast. Not least because the home support got precisely 83 seconds to glory in it, before City equalised.

Until recent weeks, when teams have set up to thwart and frustrate them even more so than usual, City had a reputation for getting the job done early. Certainly they have a booster switch. And, shocked by first-half developments, they hit it. Did they know what was going on at Anfield? Of course they did. Guardiola had said he would be forbidding his staff from getting updates from elsewhere, but knowledge is unavoidable.

The word goes around the stadium and a crowd tens of thousands strong cannot keep a secret. So the Brighton fans were soon chanting ‘1-0 to Liverpool’ as a means of winding up the locals and hearing the reaction, it worked. City are not a team to wind-up, mind. The reaction was devastating.

Already level, City took the lead after 38 minutes. Riyad Mahrez won the fateful corner, curled it in and Aymeric Laporte lost Murray far too easily, his header close to unchallenged after a charge into the area. Another interesting statistic: City have scored a lower percentage of goals from set pieces than any other team in the Premier League this season. Still – if you’re going to save one up, today was the day. City were back on top.

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