Manchester City secure historic fourth consecutive Premier League title

Phil Foden double sets off party at the Etihad Stadium for Pep Guardiola’s side

Premier League: Manchester City 3 West Ham 1

Pep Guardiola had predicted that he and Manchester City would suffer; it would be emotional, the nerves stretched taut because this is how it is supposed to go on the final day of the Premier League season when so much is at stake.

It had been that way, of course, in 2022 when City needed to beat Aston Villa here in the last game. They were 2-0 down with 15 minutes to play, flirting aggressively with disaster before the Ilkay Gündogan-inspired comeback for 3-2. City have previous for doing things the hard way. And not only in the Aguerooo season.

Yet did anybody truly believe that City would slip? Certainly, it had been hard to find anyone connected to Arsenal who thought they would. The Gunners had kicked off two points back against Everton; they were praying for a miracle. It did not come to pass. It was never going to and the truth was that despite the best efforts of the West Ham winger Mohammed Kudus, who scored a ridiculously good overhead kick goal for 2-1, it never felt remotely likely.

The more reliable narrative about the team that Guardiola has built is that when the title is in sight, they zero in on it remorselessly. They now have four-in-a-row – English football league history – and of their 10 in total, Guardiola has six. He has collected them during just eight years in charge.


Phil Foden was the star turn yet again, scoring the first two goals to take him to 27 in all competitions for the season and, when Rodri made it 3-1 just before the hour, it was the prompt for City to coast. It was their setting for the entire afternoon.

Moments before it was all over, with the fans lining up behind one of the goals for the pitch invasion, a few City players had to rush over to tell them to stay away. It was perhaps the clearest note of jeopardy. City knew that it did not matter if Arsenal won, if their rivals recorded an 89-point season with a 16th win in 18 matches. It was purely about them. They did not disappoint.

The double-double is on; City face Manchester United in next Saturday’s FA Cup final. Here, it was simply about savouring what they have achieved over the course of a long season, in the face of a serious challenge. The 17th trophy under Guardiola tasted extremely sweet.

The Villa game two years ago had been in Guardiola’s thoughts. He referenced it immediately after City’s win at Tottenham last Tuesday, as did Kyle Walker. How to avoid that from happening again? “Don’t go 2-0 down and get yourself in that situation where you need Gundo to come up with prime Zidane moments,” Walker said.

Maybe score after 76 seconds, too. That always helps. Foden’s opener was a stunning statement of City’s intent and his own talent. It is one thing to know what Foden wants to do when the ball is pinged into him on the fringes of the area – lure you in, explode away and pick out the far, top corner. It is quite another to stop him as James Ward-Prowse will attest. Once Foden had engineered the space, the finish felt like a formality, even if the purity of the strike took the breath. We have seen that goal a few times this season.

City were pumped up from the first whistle, bristling with intensity. Guardiola had started Jeremy Doku on the left wing, allowing Foden to play as a No 10 alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva on the other flank. The quartet were in the mood. They were resolved not to allow West Ham so much as a breath.

Foden’s second came after a marvellous piece of footwork by Josko Gvardiol, who picked his way through a bit of traffic and fed Erling Haaland. He released Doku, whose cut-back was made to measure for Foden. That felt like that. And yet there would be only one-goal in it at the interval – surely the most ludicrous trick of the season.

City had poured forward, Doku giving anybody in his vicinity a torrid time. They won the ball high up, De Bruyne especially; they peppered Alphonse Areola’s goal. The first 30 minutes were akin to a siege. West Ham could not get out.

City had big chances, too many to mention. Doku forced Areola into a fine save; Rodri fizzed wide after good work by De Bruyne; Haaland could not convert after Ruben Dias had volleyed back across. They were the clearest ones.

Kudus would force Ortega into a save on 38 minutes, which almost demanded a double-take. Yes, West Ham really had crossed halfway and created something. Then Kudus scored his goal and what a goal it was, an extraordinarily clean overhead kick following a corner; a celebration of technique. Kudus had initially flicked the ball into the air, assisting himself. The ball fizzed into the roof of the net. Stefan Ortega barely saw it.

Was this jeopardy? Haaland should have made it 3-1 in first-half stoppage-time only to lift high after yet another Doku burst. The truth was that Kudus’s goal of the season contender felt like a lightning bolt. West Ham surely would not be striking twice. On his West Ham farewell, David Moyes continued to demand positional discipline in his five-at-the-back system after the interval, no spaces given up. But not much more.

City camped in the West Ham half. Their supporters wanted to know whether Arsenal were watching. What they really wanted was a third goal. It was coming and it came when Silva touched back to Rodri and he threaded a low shot through a crowd. Perhaps Areola should have done better. The result, though, had never been in doubt. – Guardian