Manchester City wins historic 4th consecutive Premier League title

Manchester City cruised to its fourth consecutive English Premier League title, and sixth in seven years, with a characteristically dominant 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday.

City entered the EPL's final day two points ahead of Arsenal, knowing that a victory would yield yet another trophy. And to get that victory — plus a celebratory pitch invasion — it hardly had to fret or sweat.

Precisely 78 seconds after kickoff, Phil Foden blasted City into the lead. Sixteen minutes later, Foden doubled the lead, and pushed West Ham seemingly out of sight.

The Hammers responded with a bicycle-kick goal out of nothing just before halftime — and suddenly, tentatively, minor doubts surfaced. But Rodri, another Man City protagonist, erased them in the 59th minute, and restored City's comfort.

Arsenal, playing simultaneously 200 miles south in London, beat Everton. But the Gunners, who'd pushed City to the wire, were powerless — because City had been charging toward the finish line, unbeaten in all competitions since a Dec. 6 loss at Aston Villa.

As they seem to always do, the Citizens accelerated as winter turned to spring, discarding inferior opponents with ease. They had struggled against the EPL's top six, winning just twice in 10 games; but, in the end, they won 26 of 28 against the bottom 14. They drew Arsenal on March 31, then won each of their last nine league games — and stated their case as the greatest English team ever.

No club, in the 124-year history of English football, had ever won four straight top-flight titles.

No club had ever won six in seven seasons.

No club has ever won back-to-back domestic doubles, which City could do if it beats Manchester United in Saturday's FA Cup final.

And no English club had ever played the way City has under Pep Guardiola, bossing the ball, controlling games and picking apart overmatched foes.

Manchester City's Phil Foden, center, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, May 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Phil Foden, Manchester City's homegrown superstar, led the way Sunday with two goals in the Citizens' 3-1 win over West Ham. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

The caveat, of course, is that the club allegedly cheated. Asterisks may be coming. The Premier League has charged City with 115 breaches of rules, most of them related to false accounting and excessive spending. According to leaked documents published by German outlet Der Spiegel, City, among other nefariousness, essentially inflated the value of sponsorships so that it could splash more money on players.

That money fueled City's success. Since Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi royal family bought the club in 2008, they have spent some $2.8 billion on transfer fees. They brought in players like Sergio Agüero and Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri, Ruben Dias and Erling Haaland. They won titles in 2012 and 2014; Guardiola then arrived in 2016 to turn them into a machine.

But their latest superstar, Foden, cost $0.

He was born, raised and molded in Greater Manchester. He came through City's academy, progressed to the first team, and contributed to the previous five titles in a supplementary role. En route to the sixth, he became the main character.

In 2023-24, Foden established himself as one of the world's very best players. Earlier this week, he was voted the Premier League's Player of the Season. And then, on Sunday, he capped his breakout campaign with the goals that sealed City's four-peat — and the club's 10th overall English first-division title.