Man City’s Mendy Goes On Trial For Rape And Sexual Assault

Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy (R) arrives to Chester Crown Court in northwest England on August 10, 2022 at the start of his trial for the alleged rape and assault of seven women. Mendy, 28, who faces eight counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape, relating to seven young women, could see his playing career end in jail if convicted. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy on Wednesday began his trial for the alleged rape and assault of seven women, which could see his playing career end in jail if convicted.

Mendy, 28, arrived at Chester Crown Court in northwest England wearing a dark blue suit and tie to face eight counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape, relating to seven young women.

Flanked by an interpreter in the dock, the French player spoke in English to confirm his identity.

He pleaded not guilty in May to nine of the charges, and not guilty on Wednesday to a subsequent rape count that had not yet been put to him in court.

All the alleged offences are said to have taken place at Mendy’s home address in Prestbury near Macclesfield, also in northwest England, between October 2018 and August last year.

He is standing trial before a jury along with his co-defendant Louis Saha Matturie, 40, who has also pleaded not guilty.

Matturie denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault, relating to eight young women. His alleged offences span from July 2012 to August last year.

Both the defendants are on bail, with Mendy subject to what a judge previously called “stringent” conditions, including the surrender of his passport.

After his arrest last August he was initially held at Altcourse prison in Liverpool, and then a prison in Manchester, before being freed on bail in January.

The trial is due to last 15 weeks, with the prosecution set to open its case on Monday.

None of the women said to have been assaulted can be named under English law, which also places restrictions on what can be reported about the case.

It begins in the same week that former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs started his trial on charges of assaulting and coercively controlling his ex-girlfriend.

Mendy joined Premier League champions City from the French side of Monaco in 2017. He has played 75 times for the Manchester club, but his playing time was limited by injuries and a loss of form.

He was suspended by City after being charged by police in August.

The last of Mendy’s 10 international caps came in November 2019, after the defender picked up a World Cup winner’s medal after playing just 40 minutes of France’s successful 2018 campaign in Russia.

-AFP

Haaland’s Debut Double Gives Man City Winning Start To EPL Title Defence

Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Manchester City at the London Stadium, in London on August 7, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

Erling Haaland scored twice on his Premier League debut as Manchester City opened their defence of the title with a 2-0 win at West Ham on Sunday.

Haaland lived up to the hype since his transfer from Borussia Dortmund to give the champions a perfect start to the season in the searing heat of East London.

West Ham nearly derailed City’s title chances when they led 2-0 at half-time in the penultimate game of last season before Pep Guardiola’s men battled back for the point that ultimately edged out Liverpool at the top of the table.

But they were no match this time as Haaland immediately proved the value of City adding a proven goalscorer to their arsenal.

The Norwegian has been signed as the long-term successor to Sergio Aguero and started his City career just like the club’s all-time record goalscorer with a double on his league debut.

READ ALSO: Spineless Man United Slump To Brighton At Old Trafford

Haaland had missed chances in City’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Community Shield, but Guardiola’s warning that the goals would soon flow proved to be correct.

City’s patient possession game wore the Hammers down as temperatures in the English capital soared above 30 degrees celsius on Sunday.

Haaland took responsibility from the penalty spot to open his Premier League account after he had been brought down by Alphonse Areola.

West Ham started the second half with more attacking intent but that simply played into the hands of City’s new weapon as Kevin De Bruyne split open their defence with one pass on the counter-attack for Haaland to gallop clear on goal and slot low past Areola.

AFP

Nunez Outshines Haaland As Liverpool Beat Man City To Community Shield

Liverpool's Uruguyan forward Darwin Nunez (L) celebrates after scoring his team third goal during the English FA Community Shield football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on July 30, 2022. (Photo by Nigel Roddis / AFP)
Liverpool’s Uruguyan forward Darwin Nunez (L) celebrates after scoring his team third goal during the English FA Community Shield football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on July 30, 2022. (Photo by Nigel Roddis / AFP)

 

Liverpool struck first blood against Manchester City ahead of the new Premier League season as Darwin Nunez made an instant impact for Jurgen Klopp’s men to win the Community Shield 3-1.

In a tale of two big summer signings, Nunez came off the bench to win a penalty and score his first goal since a 75-million euro ($77 million) move from Benfica, while Erling Haaland had a City debut to forget.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s blistering strike gave Liverpool a deserved half-time lead in Leicester.

But it was City’s other new forward who hauled Pep Guardiola’s men back into the game after the break as Julian Alvarez equalised.

READ ALSO: Minister Targets Historic Performance At Commonwealth Games

Tying down Mohamed Salah to a new three-year deal was Liverpool’s other major piece of summer business and the Egyptian was deadly from the penalty spot after Nunez’s header was handled by Ruben Dias.

The Uruguayan then got his own glory moment by stooping to head home in stoppage time before tearing off his shirt in celebration.

Victory saw Liverpool win the traditional season curtain-raiser for the first time since 2006 and lay down an early marker in what is expected to be another battle between the sides for the Premier League title.

City held off the Reds to win the Premier League for a fourth time in five years by a point in a thrilling finale to last season.

Guardiola’s men had to come from 2-0 down on the final day of the campaign to beat Aston Villa and were again guilty of a slow start.

Salah was the provider for the opening goal as he laid Thiago Alcantara’s crossfield pass back to the edge of the box and Alexander-Arnold smashed in off the post with the aid of a slight deflection off Dias.

City had played just two pre-season friendlies to Liverpool’s four and took half an hour to find their feet.

Haaland was denied by Liverpool stand-in goalkeeper Adrian with his first sight of goal.

However, the Norwegian should have opened his City account moments later as he failed to properly connect with Joao Cancelo’s inviting cross.

Nunez was given his chance to shine on the hour mark, but fluffed his first big chance when Ederson prevailed in a one-on-one.

At the other end, City’s new South American striker also got his career in England off to a flying start.

Alvarez’s arrival at the Etihad has gone under the radar in the hype surrounding Haaland.

But the Argentine, who scored six goals in one Copa Libertadores match in May, is also regarded as one of the world’s most exciting young forwards.

Alvarez was quickest to react to the rebound after Adrian saved Phil Foden’s initial effort and the goal stood after a VAR review for offside.

It needed another the intervention of VAR once more for Liverpool to restore their lead seven minutes from time.

Referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after seeing a replay of Nunez’s header coming back off the arm of Dias.

Salah was deadly as ever from 12 yards as he drilled into the bottom corner despite Ederson going the right way.

Nunez then ended any doubt over the result when he pounced on Andy Robertson’s header across goal.

But City’s miserable day did not end there as Haaland hit the bar with the goal gaping deep in stoppage time to keep the Norwegian superstar waiting to open his account in English football.

 

AFP

Erling Haaland’s Goal Sees Man City Seal Victory Over Bayern Munich

Manchester City’s players celebrate after Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (3rd L) scored a goal during the international friendly match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Munich at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on July 23, 2022. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)

 

 

Erling Haaland launched his Manchester City tenure with a goal as Pep Guardiola’s men beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in a weather-disrupted friendly at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin on Saturday.

Two delays because of lightning in the area — one before kickoff and one in the first half — saw the contest shortened to 80 minutes.

It was plenty of time for City’s new $61 million striker Haaland to make an impression in his first appearance after Guardiola declared him over the injury “niggles” that kept him sidelined during City’s 2-1 victory over Mexico’s Club America in Houston on Wednesday.

Manchester City had threatened twice before a close-range strike by Bayern’s Serge Gnabry’s was disallowed by a narrow offside call in the seventh minute.

Five minutes later Haaland struck. After Riyad Mahrez’s free kick was blocked Kevin De Bruyne managed to corral the ball and slip a pass-through for Jack Grealish, who whipped it across to Haaland to connect from close range.

Frustratingly, another round of electrical storms brought proceedings to a halt, with players exiting the field and the near-sellout crowd of 78,128 at the iconic home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers instructed to seek shelter in the concourses.

The start of the match had already been delayed almost 20 minutes because of dangerous weather conditions.

The disruptions didn’t dampen the festive atmosphere for the first professional soccer match ever held at Lambeau, with a few hardy fans even braving the pounding rain and risk of lighting to remain in their seats during the stoppage.

Play resumed with 27 minutes left to complete a 40-minute first half and Haaland quickly energized City fans in attendance, bursting through behind the Bayern defence.

But before he could unleash a shot a charging Dayot Upercampo booted the ball away.

Although Manchester City controlled the pace, Bayern had a golden opportunity in the 38th minute when a cross from the right found Alphonso Davies at the far post, but his pass across the goal face didn’t quite make it to Gnabry.

A minute later Haaland almost made it 2-0, but his left-footed shot from inside the area was disallowed for offside.

Haaland departed after 40 minutes of action, giving way to newly signed striker Julian Alvarez who nearly doubled the score in the 43rd.

Despite a stream of substitutions in the second half, tension remained high between the Premier League and Bundesliga champions until the end of the truncated contest as Bayern — who opened their brief tour with a 6-2 drubbing of Wayne Rooney’s DC United, sought in vain for an equalizer.

Both clubs were flying home after the match, with Manchester City due to take on Liverpool in the Community Shield next Saturday, when Bayern face RB Leipzig in the SuperCup final.

Manchester City Sign Kalvin Phillips In £45 Million Deal

Photo of Manchester City’s new signing, , Kalvin Phillips

 

England midfielder Kalvin Phillips completed a “dream” move to Premier League champions Manchester City in a £45 million ($53 million) transfer from Leeds on Monday.

City agreed on an initial fee of £42 million for Phillips, with a further £3 million to be added in potential bonuses.

Phillips, who has signed a six-year contract with Pep Guardiola’s side, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have joined Manchester City.”

Guardiola has picked Phillips to bolster his midfield after the departure of long-serving Brazilian Fernandinho at the end of last season.

City negotiated a deal in principle to sign Phillips in June and the transfer has now been officially completed.

Phillips, who came through the youth ranks at Leeds, moves to the Etihad Stadium after making 235 appearances for his hometown club over the past eight seasons.

“City have again proved to be the best team in the country with an amazing squad and a manager in Pep Guardiola who is rightly considered to be the finest in the world,” Phillips said.

“To be able to play under Pep and learn from him and his coaching staff as well as be part of such a fantastic squad is a prospect that I am incredibly excited about.

“City are a world-class club with world-class staff and facilities and it’s a dream come true to have joined the club.”

‘Superb addition’

Phillips is City’s third close-season arrival after the signings of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.

The 26-year-old came through the youth ranks at Leeds and played a key part in their promotion back to the Premier League two years ago.

He went on to establish himself as an England international, featuring in the run to the European Championship final last year.

Following the blockbuster swoop for Haaland, City have again signalled their determination to retain the Premier League title with the Phillips deal.

Phillips’ arrival came on the day City sold Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, with City forward Raheem Sterling also linked with a move to Chelsea.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Kalvin to Manchester City,” City director of football Txiki Begiristain said.

“He is a player that we have long admired, and at both domestic and international level, he has proved his fantastic ability and quality over the past few seasons.

“We feel he will be a superb addition to our squad and that he will complement our game perfectly.”

Phillips was quick to acknowledge the role of former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa in his development from an underused member of the Elland Road squad into an England regular.

“I cannot mention Leeds without mentioning one special person — Marcelo. The best manager I have ever come across. He was a man that gave the club life,” Phillips said.

To his fellow Leeds supporters, Phillips said: “I hope you guys understand my decision and will accept that I only want to chase my dreams and test myself against and with the best teams and best players on the planet.”

-AFP

La Liga Confirms Complaints To UEFA Against City And PSG

 

 

 

La Liga confirmed on Wednesday it has filed complaints to UEFA about Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City “continuously breaching the current regulations of financial fair play”.

La Liga said the complaint to UEFA against City was made in April while the complaint against PSG was filed “this week”.

The Spanish league insisted it will continue to ramp up legal action against the two state-backed clubs.

La Liga has hired legal firms in France and Switzerland “with the aim of undertaking administrative and judicial actions before the relevant French bodies and the European Union as soon as possible”, read a statement from the league.

And in Switzerland, La Liga is “studying different representation options” to investigate the “possible conflicts of interest” of Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is PSG chairman, in charge of Qatar-owned BeIN Sports, leads the European Club Association and sits on UEFA’s executive committee.

Manchester City won the race to buy Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after paying the striker’s £51 million ($63 million) release clause but the deal, including salary and agents fees, could reportedly exceed £250 million.

And PSG will pay Kylian Mbappe a yearly salary of between 40 and 50 million euros, after the Frenchman chose to reject Real Madrid and sign a new three-year contract with the Qatari-owned club.

PSG suffered a 224.3-million-euro ($240m) loss in 2020/21, an increase of 80 percent on the previous year, the annual report from French football’s financial authority (DNCG) said earlier this month.

“La Liga considers that these practices alter the ecosystem and the sustainability of football, harm all European clubs and leagues, and only serve to artificially inflate the market, with money not generated in football itself,” the Spanish league’s statement read.

“La Liga understands that the irregular financing of these clubs is carried out, either through direct injections of money or through sponsorship and other contracts, that do not correspond to market conditions or make economic sense.”

– La Liga continuing fight against state-owned clubs –

La Liga has been accused of sour grapes after Mbappe decided against playing in Spain, although the Spanish league and its president, Javier Tebas, have long rallied against the financial might of the state-owned clubs.

“It is not the first time that La Liga has denounced these anti-competitive practices before UEFA,” the statement added.

“The Spanish organization has always led the defense of economic control. In 2017 and 2018, he filed briefs with UEFA against PSG and Manchester City for infringing financial fair play, which resulted in sanctions by UEFA against both ‘state clubs’, although they were later annulled due to strange decisions by the CAS.”

La Liga introduced a system of strict spending restrictions in 2013, which Tebas says increases the competitive balance of the Spanish league and encourages clubs to adopt longer-term approaches to spending.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in an interview with AFP last month he rejected La Liga’s criticism of Mbappe’s new deal.

“I absolutely don’t agree. There are too many insults anyway in football, and I think that every league should worry about their own situation,” Ceferin said.

“I don’t think it is right that one league criticises the other league. As much as I know, the offer from Real for Mbappe was similar to PSG’s offer,” Ceferin added.

Man City’s Mendy Charged With Additional Count Of Rape

Man City defender, Benjamin Mendy.

 

Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy has been charged with a further count of rape, it was announced Wednesday following the lifting of reporting restrictions.

The latest allegation, which relates to a new complainant, means the 27-year-old has now been accused of eight counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape, relating to seven young women.

Mendy pleaded not guilty last month to the prior charges. The latest has not yet been put to him in a court.

The media had been banned from publishing the latest charge, but that restriction was lifted by judge Steven Everett during a hearing at Chester Crown Court in northwest England on Wednesday.

READ ALSOPogba To Leave Manchester United

All the alleged offences are said to have taken place at Mendy’s home address near Macclesfield, northwest England, between October 2018 and August last year.

Mendy is due to go on trial before a jury on July 25 along with his co-defendant Louis Saha Matturie, 40, who has also pleaded not guilty.

Matturie denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault, relating to eight young women. His alleged offences span from July 2012 to August last year.

Both the defendants are on bail. None of the women said to have been assaulted can be named under English law.

Mendy joined Premier League champions City from French side Monaco in 2017. He has played 75 times for the Manchester club, but his playing time has been limited by injuries and a loss of form.

He was suspended by City after being charged by police.

The last of Mendy’s 10 caps for France came in November 2019, after the defender won the World Cup in 2018.

AFP

Fuelled By Premier League Dynasty, Man City Crave Champions League Legacy

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s latest Premier League title triumph established the champions as a burgeoning dynasty, but Pep Guardiola won’t be satisfied until their domestic bliss becomes the catalyst to conquer Europe.

City’s fourth title in five seasons is arguably the greatest achievement of Guardiola’s glittering career as he found a way to hold off Liverpool’s relentless challenge by one point.

“The magnitude of our achievement is because of the magnitude of this rival,” said Guardiola. “Never ever I had a rival like Liverpool in my career as a football player or manager.”

But even Jurgen Klopp’s men, in the midst of one of the best seasons in their history, were unable to surpass City, leaving them with just one Premier League title in 32 years.

Lauding his players’ remarkable staying power, Guardiola said: “You cannot be here over the last five years if you don’t have that resilience.

“We have the desire to win. To win titles, especially the Premier League, is not just how good we are with the ball.”

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) and Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (L) celebrate with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Nothing resembled that resilience more than the manner of City’s latest title triumph.

Losing 2-0 to Aston Villa with 15 minutes to go, City rallied in remarkable fashion to score three times in five minutes.

Yet, while Guardiola celebrates the ninth major prize of his six-year City reign, Klopp will be planning to add another chapter to Liverpool’s rich Champions League history.

Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 and Guardiola would dearly love to swap places with Klopp in Paris.

Since winning the second of his two Champions League crowns with Barcelona on 2011, Guardiola’s relationship with Europe’s elite club competition has been scarred by one agonising failure after another.

This season was no different as City crashed to a devastating semi-final exit against Real Madrid, blowing a 5-3 aggregate lead in the final seconds of normal time before losing in the extra period.

That heartache at the Bernabeu came a year after City’s limp loss to Chelsea in their first ever Champions League final.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Haaland The Perfect Fit? 

In this file photo, ex-Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland applauds after the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 16, 2022. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

With that in mind, Guardiola knows City cannot afford to stand still if they are to finally triumph in Europe and keep Liverpool at bay in the Premier League.

A £51.5 million ($63 million) swoop for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland earlier in May was the opening salvo in their bid to achieve those two targets.

Haaland scored a remarkable 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund and appears an ideal fit for City.

The 21-year-old son of former City defender Alfie Haaland will arrive in time for next season, bringing his elite predatory instincts and physical presence to a City attack lacking both those qualities despite their success.

With the Norway international in the fold and Guardiola also looking to upgrade his options at left-back and in central midfield, it would be a major surprise if City were missing from the title race next term.

The only threat to City’s dynastic ambitions comes in the shape of Guardiola’s future plans.

Guardiola’s current contract expires in June 2023, by which time he will have spent seven years with City, three seasons longer than he managed Barcelona and four more than his spell with Bayern Munich.

The 51-year-old revealed amid the title celebrations he is “exhausted” and will not discuss a further extension to his time in Manchester until next season.

However, it is unlikely he would be able to find a better working environment than the one he enjoys with City.

City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners are never afraid to flex their financial muscle in the transfer market and have surrounded Guardiola with the lieutenants of his choice in director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive officer Ferran Soriano.

The quirky Spaniard marches to the beat of his own drum and a game-changing departure cannot be completely ruled out.

But the fierce competitor that lies beneath Guardiola’s urbane demeanour could be the key to his decision.

He sees Liverpool as a worthy opponent and, as a title race for the ages proved, pitting his wits against Klopp is the toughest, and most rewarding, challenge he could face.

AFP

‘Story Of My Life’: Klopp Laments As Man City Pip Liverpool In Title Race

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s agonising failure to win the Premier League title was the “story of my life” as the German had to settle for second place behind Manchester City again.

Klopp’s side were within touching distance of the title for a few precious minutes at Anfield on Sunday as they chased a winning goal against Wolves while City trailed 2-0 against Aston Villa.

But, in a dramatic finish to the title race, City scored three times in the closing stages to win 3-2 and take the trophy by one point from second placed Liverpool.

The Reds’ 3-1 victory over Wolves was rendered irrelevant by City’s epic comeback, leaving Klopp to rue a second last-day title blow inflicted by Pep Guardiola’s team.

City had edged out Liverpool in the 2019 title race, while Klopp endured two last-day failures to win promotion to the Bundesliga during his time as Mainz boss.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

“Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola. Thank you to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton for making a proper game of it,” Klopp said.

“It’s not the result we wanted. It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t know the results exactly but I know Villa were 1-0 up –- were they 2-0 up as well? Of course at the moment there’s disappointment here as well.

“92 points is absolutely incredible. We wanted it all, but now it’s OK.

“Finishing second is the story of my life. I’m still record holder for not getting promoted in Germany with the highest points tally. You need to get more points than any other teams, but we didn’t do that.”

Despite Klopp’s lament, he has led Liverpool to FA Cup and League Cup glory this term and can win a third trophy if they beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.

The German has also won the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Klopp insisted Liverpool had nothing to be ashamed of after cutting into the 14-point lead City held at the top in January to take the title race to the wire.

Hailing City as the world’s best team, he said: “You can’t do more than give your absolute best and that’s what the boys did again.

“We chased the best team in the world to the wire, that’s absolutely special. We’ll build a team again and go again.”

Klopp’s main concern ahead of the Champions League final is an injury to Thiago Alcantara that is likely to rule out the influential midfielder.

“I think he’ll be out of the final but I don’t know. He’s limping, so it’s maybe not the best sign,” he said.

AFP

Five Key Moments That Won Manchester City The Premier League

Manchester City’s players run towards the pitch to celebrate after winning the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City are champions of England for a fourth time in five years after holding off Liverpool in a titanic tussle for the Premier League title.

City’s failure to land a natural striker to replace Sergio Aguero cast doubt on their title credentials as Liverpool and Chelsea strengthened their squads with eyes on the crown.

Pep Guardiola’s men again proved to be well-suited to the marathon grind of a 38-game season, but needed to summon the spirit of champions to seal the deal on the final day.

Trailing 2-0 to Aston Villa with 14 minutes remaining, City needed to score three times to avoid a trophyless season and pulled it off thanks to Ilkay Gundogan’s double either side of Rodri’s strike.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

AFP Sport looks at five defining moments that swung the title race City’s way:

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) and Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (L) celebrate with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Chelsea put in their place

Chelsea had City’s number towards the end of last season, beating them three times in three different competitions, culminating in lifting the Champions League in Porto.

The Blues were expected to carry that momentum into a title challenge and started the season strongly.

City were three points behind Chelsea and Liverpool when they travelled to Stamford Bridge in early September having dropped points in two of their first five games.

However, Guardiola’s men laid down a marker with a dominant display that deserved a more comprehensive result than their 1-0 victory.

The same day, Liverpool were held 3-3 at Brentford to nullify the impact of City’s slow start.

Winter Wins

Fans were back in the stands all season but coronavirus still had a major impact as outbreaks among squads led to mass postponements in the winter months.

City were one of the few clubs to escape without a single match being rearranged and produced a 12-game winning run between November and February that took the title race away from the chasing pack.

Rodri’s 92nd-minute winner at Arsenal in an early kick-off on January 1 amid a packed schedule was the stuff that champions are made of.

But there was plenty of the exhilarating football Guardiola’s sides are synonomous with too as Leeds were dispatched 7-0, Leicester hit for six and Newcastle and Norwich thrashed 4-0.

Liverpool Pay Penalty At Leicester

As City motored through the festive period, Liverpool’s title bid came off the rails.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost just three of 62 games all season that kept their bid for an unprecedented quadruple alive into the final week of the campaign.

However, one of them came in the most unlikely circumstances at Leicester on December 28.

The postponement of Liverpool’s Boxing Day game with Leeds had given Klopp’s men a rare six-day rest amid the busiest time of the English football calendar.

Leicester, by contrast, had lost 6-3 at City only 48 hours previously and were severely weakened by injuries and Covid cases.

Mohamed Salah missed a Premier League penalty for the first time in four years before Ademola Lookman gave Leicester an unlikely 1-0 win.

Draws at Tottenham and Chelsea either side of Liverpool’s trip to the King Power allowed City to move 12 points ahead on New Year’s Day.

‘Title decider’ stalemate suits City

Liverpool’s stunning form in 2022 gave Klopp’s men the chance to leapfrog City when the top two faced off at the Etihad in early April.

But City maintained a one-point lead at the top after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Guardiola bemoaned his side had left the Reds “alive” after missing the best chances to win the game.

However, ultimately it proved to be a vital point in retaining the title.

No Hammer Blow

Liverpool’s first dropped points at Anfield since October in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham allowed City to extend their lead to three points going into the final two games of the season.

But they twice nearly threw it away by falling behind 2-0 to both West Ham and Aston Villa.

Jarrod Bowen punished an injury-decimated City defence scoring twice for the Hammers before Jack Grealish and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal did enough to salvage a point and keep the destiny of the title in their own hands.

City did not learn their lesson as Villa also counter-attacked to good effect to take a 2-0 lead at the Etihad on Sunday.

This time Gundogan was the hero off the bench to spark scenes reminiscent of Aguero’s 93rd minute title winner to start City’s era of dominance 10 years ago.

AFP

Pep’s Perfect 10 The Tonic For Man City’s Euro Woe


Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola goes for the Premier League trophy as he prepares to celebrate their title during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola may not yet have delivered the Champions League crown Manchester City crave, but four Premier League titles in five years demonstrate a period of dominance to match his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan now has 10 league titles to his name in just 13 seasons as a senior coach across three of the toughest divisions in the world.

Few of those have been as hard-fought as City’s latest title triumph.

Guardiola’s men were pushed all the way by a Liverpool side he described as the best he has faced in his managerial career.

The Reds could still complete a treble of League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League should they see off Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.

READ ALSOMan City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

However, just as in the engrossing title tussle between the same two clubs three years ago, City’s squeaked home by a point thanks to a dramatic fightback from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on the final day.

Recognition of Guardiola’s achievements at City often comes with the caveats of the huge resources at his disposal and consistent failings to convert domestic dominance into European success since leaving Barcelona a decade ago.

“If we don’t win it in my final period here, I will be a failure,” Guardiola said last month, speaking about his Champions League record.

But his ability to construct sides capable of rising to the relentless demands of winning a title over 38 games is unmatched.

The 51-year-old has laughed off suggestions he could match former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson’s longevity.

But only Ferguson’s haul of 13 Premier League titles in 27 years at Old Trafford comes close to matching Guardiola’s strike rate in Europe’s toughest leagues.

“Pep is the best coach in the world,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp last month. “I think we would all agree on that and it might be a coincidence that it didn’t work out in the Champions League so far.

“If anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen.”

City infrastructure 

City’s long-term strategy of building the infrastructure of the club around Guardiola, even prior to his arrival, has been thoroughly vindicated.

Director of football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano were plucked from Barcelona with the aim of luring Guardiola to England.

Guardiola was burned out by the demands of the job at Barcelona after four seasons and cut short his time at Bayern after three years.

By contrast, he has stayed at City now for six seasons and will be around for at least a seventh.

Backed by the state wealth of Abu Dhabi, Guardiola has been given the money to assemble one of the most expensive squads in football history.

However, there are limits to that spending power as City found out last year.

Tottenham would not let Harry Kane go despite City’s interest and the England captain’s desire to leave.

The English champions have already swooped to fulfil their need for a striker for next season by beating off competition from other leading clubs in Europe to sign Erling Haaland.

But Guardiola had to make do without a natural finisher this season and still conjured up the top-scoring team in the Premier League.

Most importantly, he also held onto the trophy he values more than any other.

“I would say it’s more difficult,” said Guardiola on Premier League glory compared with winning the Champions League.

“There’s a lot of weeks and games, struggles with injuries, good and bad moments with different situations, tough opponents.

“It’s satisfying because it’s every day. When you fight for the Premier League and have success right at the end, it gives you a sense that you enjoy a lot. We are happier in our lives when you win.”

The fear for the rest of the Premier League is that with Haaland’s arrival, City look likely to get even stronger.

After three league titles at Barca and Bayern, Guardiola has a fourth in England and his grip on the Premier League is only getting tighter.

AFP

Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row


Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 22, 2022. Daniel LEAL / AFP

 

Arsenal have missed out on a Champions League spot despite mauling Everton on the final day of the Premier League. 

The Gunners defeated Everton 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium but that was not enough to send them to Europe’s elite competition ahead of Tottenham who outclassed relegated Norwich 5-0 on the same day.

Spurs just need a point to finish fourth when and they qualified for the Champions League in grand style

“We know the importance of the game. If someone thinks the situation is easy I am not that person and I don’t transfer these thoughts to my players,” Conte said ahead of the match.

With incoming boss Erik ten Hag watching from the stands, sixth-placed Manchester United lost at Crystal Palace.

READ ALSO: Man City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

But they avoided the ignominy of slipping into the Europa Conference League after were beaten by Brighton.

At the Etihad, Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.

In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.

Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.

Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.