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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

English Premier League: Manchester City hit the top with one week of season left

Defender Gvardiol keeps on scoring as Pep's men take pole position

Reuters London Published 12.05.24, 10:06 AM
Manchester City’s Josko Gvardiol (centre) scores the first goal past Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno during the Premier League match in London on Saturday

Manchester City’s Josko Gvardiol (centre) scores the first goal past Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno during the Premier League match in London on Saturday Reuters

Manchester City hit the top of the English Premier League with one week of the season left as two goals by Josko Gvardiol and one each from Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez sealed an emphatic 4-0 victory at Fulham on Saturday.

City's stroll in the London sunshine, their seventh successive league win and 16th consecutive victory over Fulham in all competitions, moved them two points clear of Arsenal.

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Pep Guardiola's relentless side, closing in on an unprecedented fourth English title in a row, have 85 points from 36 games, with Arsenal on 83 having also played 36.

Arsenal can regain top spot by beating Manchester United on Sunday but City, who play their game in hand at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, are two wins away from making history.

Croatian defender Gvardiol slotted them ahead in the 13th minute after a neat one-two with Kevin de Bruyne and City doubled their advantage when Foden swept home a shot after 59 minutes.

Gvardiol slid in to touch home Bernardo Silva's cross at the back post and Argentine Alvarez converted a penalty deep into stoppage-time to complete the rout.

The spot-kick was awarded for a foul by Fulham's Issa Diop who was sent off.

City's unlikely goal poacher Gvardiol says he is looking forward to three finals as his first season at The Etihad nears a perfect climax.

The 22-year-old Croatian was signed from RB Leipzig last August ostensibly for his defensive attributes but the left-back has scored four goals in his last five league games to help City's push towards a record fourth successive title.

City will win the trophy if they beat Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday and West Ham United next weekend and with an FA Cup final to come against Manchester United they can seal a double, having claimed a treble last season.

"Another great performance not just from me but from the team as well," Gvardiol said. "It was very difficult, but today (Saturday) we showed again who we are and what we are ready for.

"Another two goals, I'm happy and a clean sheet. Currently I'm in good form and the end of the season is coming.

"Three more finals so we need to be ready."

He was denied the chance of hat-trick, however, when City were awarded the penalty and the ball was given to Alvarez to complete a dazzling win.

"We were discussing about me taking the penalty I said I'd like to take it, but we know who is the taker and he takes," Gvardiol said. "In the end it was Julian and I'm happy for him."

While the City fans celebrated loudly at the final whistle after a seventh successive win heaped the pressure on Arsenal, Gvardiol said the focus now on Tuesday's clash at Tottenham against whom they have a poor away record.

Should Arsenal beat United on Sunday and extend their goal difference advantage over City, Pep Guardiola's side will likely have to win their last two games to pip the Londoners.

"I said many times we need to focus on ourselves and keep going in that way," Gvardiol said.

"Of course, we talk about (goal difference) and we are trying to get there, but it's not easy because Arsenal have quality as well and going well too. Spurs will be another final. I played only once there and it was difficult, hopefully, it's going to be a good day for us," he added.

Burnley relegated

Burnley were relegated after a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur left Vincent Kompany's side five points from the safety zone with one game remaining. The result left 19th-placed Burnley with 25 points from 37 games, giving them no chance of moving out of the drop zone as they became the second team to go down after Sheffield United's relegation was confirmed last month.

It marked a second relegation from the top flight in three seasons for Burnley.


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