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London: Manchester City’s players celebrated winning the title without kicking a ball, singing along to Queen’s We Are The Champions at their training ground after Arsenal went down with a whimper against Nottingham Forest.
Pep Guardiola remains in pursuit of the treble after securing the league title without even playing, with Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 victory also guaranteeing the Midlands club a place in the top division next season.
Manchester City under head coach Pep Guardiola were confirmed as Premier League champions for the fifth time in six seasons.Credit:
City are now an unassailable four points ahead of Arsenal and Guardiola’s players will be given a guard of honour before their game against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Monday morning (AEST).
It is the club’s fifth title in six seasons and extends Guardiola’s remarkable grip on silverware in English football, just seven weeks after his team were eight points behind Arsenal with just a quarter of the season left to play
Yet a run of 11 wins in a row has seen them rise to the top yet again, claiming their crown for the third successive campaign.
Guardiola is also preparing for the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, but the Catalan believes City will not be regarded as one of the best teams in European football history until they win the Champions League.
“To have helped the club win a third-straight Premier League title is something very special,” City captain Ilkay Gundogan said.
The referee shows a yellow card to Jorginho of Arsenal during the loss to Nottingham Forest.Credit: Getty Images
“The Premier League is without doubt the most demanding and competitive league in the world, so that tells you everything about what an achievement this is. This squad is so talented and so special and to have been captain this season has been an enormous privilege.
“To have won this trophy three times in a row and five times in six years is incredible. That quality and consistency helps sum up what Manchester City stand for and ensures the club will continue to strive for success going forward.
“Our amazing fans have been with us every single step of the way. Without their amazing backing I don’t think there is any way we would have been able to achieve what we have done these past six seasons.”
Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, admitted it was a “really sad day” after the club’s dreams of winning the league finally disintegrated.
Their defeat by Brighton last weekend effectively ended their hopes and Forest’s win means Arsenal won only two of their final eight matches.
Arteta said: “We built a lot of illusion and belief that we could go all the way and win it and in the end we fell short. Congratulations to Man City, they are the champions, they deserve to be the champions, they have done it for 38 games, we haven’t been able to do that.
“That is it and from my side I apologise because we have built that belief that we could do it and in the end the team wasn’t able to do it and that is my responsibility.
“Today is just a lot of sadness. You see a lot of people, they put everything, they put so much work, so much belief and so much hours and I am sad, I am sad for them because we wanted to find a way and squeeze everything we had in that group.
“We fell short and this is my job and my responsibility, I have to analyse that and think.”
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale said: “It’s hard. All that hard work over months has come to an end today. We just couldn’t find a way through, credit to Forest, they knew what they needed to do.
“Deep down we know what we have achieved. When the dust settles we will be proud.
“One team in six seasons has beaten Manchester City to the title. But it was our own doing, individual errors in games we should have won.”
‘We have to win in Europe to be considered up there with those teams’
City face Inter Milan in the European showpiece next month and Guardiola accepts that their dominance of the English game since he took over as manager in 2016 is still not enough to put themselves alongside some of the great European teams.
Barcelona, his spiritual football home, won the Champions League four times between 2006 and 2015 – including two under his stewardship in 2009 and 2011 – while Real Madrid have won Europe’s top club prize five times in the last decade.
Guardiola said: “This team is really good but I’m in agreement with the media and people who say we have to win in Europe to be considered as the same type as those teams who have won it not just once but many times in Europe.
Early celebrations: City supporters hold a cutout of coach Pep Guardiola outside the Etihad stadium in Manchester.Credit: AP
“The joy [of being in the final] is so nice, it’s amazing being here again. Nothing is going to change that, but if we are to be considered one of the best teams we have to win the Champions League.”
City are just three wins from matching neighbours Manchester United as the only English club to win the Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
But Guardiola achieved it in his very first season as Barcelona manager in 2008-09 when they won La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and then beat United in the Champions League final in Rome.
Drawing on that experience he says the momentum gained from winning each trophy is key.
“In that period I remember saying ‘what’s next?,’ ” he said. “The first title helps win the second one, the second one helps win the third. The dynamic helps you a lot – the mood helps you a lot. The best clubs are always starving [for more success].”
Guardiola says he is a better coach after seven seasons in the Premier League – following three years in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich – than he was when he started out at the Nou Camp with that remarkable treble.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Did Germany change me as a manager? Of course it did because I had to get to know new players, a new style, new [opposition] managers, new way to relate to the media, and it is the same here.”
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