In the end, the Premier League final day mirrored the run-in: Manchester City offered Liverpool brief hope before ruthlessly snuffing it out.
City’s consistency since their January defeat to Newcastle has been scarcely believable and while hugely impressive it has deprived us of some of the excitement that a title race such as this one deserved. Since City hit the front in early March, there has been an aura of inevitability about the destination of the Premier League title.
Yes, Liverpool went top again in the meantime courtesy of having played more games than City, but it never felt as though City would drop points in any of their games in hand. Their winning run was frankly ridiculous: 42 points were amassed over 14 games, more than six clubs managed over the 38-game season.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 13, 2019
Pep Guardiola’s side hit the back of the net 32 times over those 14 games and conceded just four goals, while they led at the break more often than not. They had even found the net by the 15th minute on six different occasions on their marvellous winning run.
It just never seemed like City were going to drop points once they found themselves in the driving seat, making all of Liverpool’s heroic efforts rather futile and, despite what Sky will tell you, making this title race inferior to years gone by.
Over the course of its history, the Premier League has witnessed a number of thrilling battles for its crown, and they all had one thing in common: slip ups.
A quintessential part of the best title races is not knowing what will happen on any given weekend. Banana skins were likely to manifest themselves in the most unlikely of venues and the chasing pack could always live in hope. City simply didn’t do banana skins.
Their game against Leicester was the closest they came to dropping points in those 14 games, and even still they took the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
While Kompany’s effort will surely be remembered as one of the great Premier League goals, it must be countered with the realism that a City side who were in the ascendency probably would have found a way through in the final moments anyway. Other than that, though, there has been no late drama, no scares, just plain sailing for the champions.
Glenn Murray’s goal on Sunday was the first time that City went behind in the league since they were defeated at Newcastle in January. In total, they were behind for one minute thanks to Sergio Aguero’s timely intervention.
Contrast this run-in with 2013-14, the last real title race before this one, and there is absolutely no competition with regards to drama and excitement. All jokes about bottle jobs aside, that year made for far more compelling viewing. It’s like a technically gifted boxer winning on points; it might be the most logical way to achieve victory, but at the end of the day most viewers would rather see knockdowns and to-ing and fro-ing. The spectacle just isn’t the same.
That's the second time I've managed to blow the title for Liverpool in 5 years.
Remind me not to go back to Merseyside anytime soon.
— Deluded Brendan (@DeludedBrendan) May 6, 2019
City’s maiden Premier League title in 2011-12 was even more dramatic still. Appearing to lose their nerve in the Spring, City again rescued their season by salvaging a home draw with Sunderland, this time scoring twice in added on time to draw 3-3.
Ultimately, it was the far more experienced United side that faltered at the final hurdle, losing at Wigan first before squandering a two-goal lead at home to Everton in a 4-4 draw. City did the rest by beating United at Eastlands, and then incredibly scored twice in injury to beat QPR on the final day.
Both 2012 and 2014 were helped by the fact that the top two played each other as the season reached its climax and, this season, we were unlucky that City and Liverpool played for the last time at the beginning of January. It’s the hallmark of any great title race; the two best teams coming to blows when the stakes are at their absolute highest. As good as City’s win over Liverpool was in terms of quality, it just didn’t hold the same significance that it would have done if it had taken place four months later.
Of course, this isn’t the fault of City or Liverpool.
Both have been remarkably consistent in their quest for glory this season. It is the fault of the other 18 clubs that barely laid a glove on them, making City’s triumph somewhat inevitable ever since Liverpool’s mini slump.
Don’t let the points total fool you, this has been nowhere near the greatest title race the Premier League has seen.