Man City 1 Chelsea 0: Julian Alvarez goal sees champions cruise to win as Blues humbled by fringe players
THE party had started the night before but the appetite for celebration was still strong.
Victory for Nottingham Forest against Arsenal less than 24 hours earlier had confirmed Manchester City were keeping the Premier League trophy for a third straight season.
AFPJulian Alvarez scored his 17th Manchester City goal to break the deadlock[/caption]
AFPAlvarez starred for the champions as they celebrated their title triumph[/caption]
APMan City were in party mood at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon[/caption]
AFPThe Man City fans did the Poznan as they celebrated the title triumph[/caption]
They have deserved it, they have been brilliant.
This Man City is arguably the best team English football has ever seen.
Across town they will say otherwise.
There was a slight air that Arsenal result had snatched away City’s big moment.
The fans really wanted to have to win it with victory on this scorching afternoon.
After all they love a bit of drama here, like last season when, needing to win their final game, they were 2-0 down at home to Aston Villa before scoring three in the final 15 minutes.
And of course there will always be 2012 and Agueroooo.
But the Gunners epic choke had taken the life out of this title fight some time ago.
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Man City were given a guard of honour by the Chelsea players before the gameRichard Pelham / The Sun
Mikel Arteta had said that their visit to the Etihad on April 26th would not define the season.
That 4-1 victory as the master Pep Guardiola demolished apprentice Arteta’s side finished Arsenal off after three successive draws prior to that encounter.
The North London side were eight points clear on April 7th and back then tickets for their final game at home to Wolves were going on the black market for up to £53,000.
They might not be able to give them away as the planned celebration becomes a wake.
City, by contrast, are getting used to these joyous afternoons in the sun.
Indeed, from the first whistle everyone just seemed to be killing time until the gleaming Premier League trophy was awarded.
Arsenal’s capitulation had enabled Guardiola to rapidly change his plans for this game, replacing all bar two of the players who had taken down Real Madrid in such incredible fashion here last Wednesday night.
Even Kalvin Phillips got a game, his first start in the league since his £45million switch from Leeds last summer.
The players may change but the style remains the same.
What City do with a football really is a thing of beauty.
Even their second team was too much for a woeful Chelsea who have disgracefully downed tools under Frank Lampard.
That is seven defeats in nine games since his return.
City were ahead after just 12 minutes when Wesley Fofana’s loose pass out from the back went straight to Cole Palmer.
He charged forward and fed Julian Alvarez whose low shot back across the goalkeeper found the far corner.
When Phil Foden controlled a long ball from Phillips he almost pulled off the spectacular with a looping volley that went just wide of the far post.
Chelsea had a chance when former City title winner Raheem Sterling got through one-on-one but was denied by the outstretched boot of goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.
APPep Guardiola inflicted another defeat on Chelsea’s interim boss Frank Lampard[/caption]
Then when Lewis Hall crossed to the far post Conor Gallagher’s header came back off the post.
Into the second-half and Phillips almost doubled City’s lead with a header from Riyad Mahrez’s free kick which hit the inside of the post and shot across the line.
Sterling had a shot cleared off the line by sub John Stones but was flagged offside in any case.
Alvarez thought he had a second but the goal was ruled out for a handball by Mahrez who provided the assist.
One of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came when Erling Haaland was brought on for the last 16 minutes – what a season.
And that was that as what resembled a pre-season fizzled out and the silverware was brought out.
Yes Arsenal blew it, but blew it because the sight of City in their wing mirrors going through the gears proved too much in the end.
City’s last defeat in any competition came way back on February 5th when they lost 1-0 at Spurs.
They are unbeaten in 24 and this was their 12th league win in a row.
Such remorselessness used to be the domain of the team in the red half of the city.
Now they are just happy to finish in the top four.
How the tables have turned in this city in just over a decade.
This hat-trick of titles means City join Huddersfield (1924-26), Arsenal (1933-35), Liverpool (1982-84) and United (1999-2001, 2007-09) to achieve such a feat.
It is five in six years under Guardiola and you sense that as long as he stays that figure will only rise while the rest breathlessly try to keep up.
Attention now turns to the second leg of the treble and that FA Cup final date with Manchester United.
Then of course it is the Holy Grail – the Champions League and Inter Milan in the final.
You sense this time – unlike two years ago against Chelsea – there will be no mistakes.
With 115 Premier League charges surrounding the club’s financial affairs, the fight will then be for the men in suits.
But for now it is the men in boots who make sure that dreams continue to come true in blue.