Mentality key to historic feat: PEP

Gabriel Jesus celebrates with fans after his 94th-minute winner, when he took a long pass from Kevin de Bruyne and lobbed the ball over Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
Gabriel Jesus celebrates with fans after his 94th-minute winner, when he took a long pass from Kevin de Bruyne and lobbed the ball over Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.PHOTO: REUTERS

Dramatic last-gasp goal against Saints proves City's consistency in 100-pt season, he claims

LONDON • How fitting that Manchester City would finish an extraordinary season with a bang.

Substitute Gabriel Jesus hoisted a wonderful dinked effort into the Southampton net with only two seconds left in added time on Sunday to rack up the champions' 32nd Premier League win of the campaign, attaining a landmark and record-breaking century in the process.

Jesus' dramatic winner was a timely reminder that this City side are no ordinary team. And City manager Pep Guardiola believes it will be quite some time before any team can overtake their points record.

"It's incredible, 50 (points) at home and 50 away," Guardiola, who went one better than when he oversaw Barcelona's 99-point LaLiga-winning 2009-10 season.

"When you get 100 points, it's something special. It's a record that will stay long. A lot of goals, concede few, lots of points, wins at home, wins away, everything was perfect this season - and finished the way we deserved to finish.

"I still cannot believe it, it is a massive achievement, it means how stable, how good we were all the season. The numbers are always consequences of what we have done in terms of the way we play, our mentality. You cannot achieve what we achieve in terms of many records if you are not a humble team, professional, (that) has that desire to win."

  • Tumbling records

  • BIGGEST TITLE-WINNING MARGIN:

    City finished 19 points clear of closest rivals Manchester United to beat the record set by Alex Ferguson's side when they won the 1999-2000 season by 18 points from Arsenal.

    MOST POINTS:

    City became the first team in English top-flight history to reach 100 points thanks to Gabriel Jesus' injury-time winner on the final day of the season. The previous Premier League record of 95 was set by Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2004-05.

    MOST GOALS: 

    City finished the season with 106, scoring at a rate of more than 2.8 per match. Carlo Ancelotti was in charge at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea set the previous record of 103 goals in 2009-10.

    MOST WINS: 

    Antonio Conte's Chelsea record of 30 wins last season lasted only one term, with City bringing up their 32nd victory of the season at Southampton on the final day.

    BEST GOAL DIFFERENCE:

    Chelsea won the 2009-10 title with the final game of the season, when an 8-0 victory over Wigan Athletic gave them a goal difference of +71. City beat that with a final goal difference of +79.

"It's now time to rest - except the guys who go to the World Cup - and prepare well for the next season," the Spaniard added.

Guardiola's buoyant mood was also further boosted after goalkeeper Ederson on Sunday signed a new contract which will keep him at the club until 2025.

The only minor worry for Guardiola is that he may be about to lose one of his assistants in the close season, with Mikel Arteta of interest to Arsenal, as they search for Arsene Wenger's successor.

"His (Arteta's) contribution (to our season), was outstanding, amazing. We were together so good, all the staff, Mikel. So if he stays, I will be (the) happiest guy in the world," the 47-year-old said.

"If he decides to move because he has this offer, I will not say, 'You don't have to go'.

"If he decides to go, I will be so sad but I will understand his decision."

Things are, however, gloomy at Stamford Bridge after Antonio Conte's men failed to qualify for the Champions League on Sunday.

And Conte, who questioned the desire of his players, claims Chelsea have no chance of an FA Cup final victory over Manchester United unless they improve quickly.

His side have one last chance to atone for an underwhelming fifth-placed finish - which condemned them to a place in next term's Europa League - when they face United at Wembley on Saturday.

"If we play like this (a 3-0 loss at Newcastle) in the FA Cup final, we don't have a chance. We have (five) days to change our approach, our desire, our will to fight because we can do much better," he warned.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN


Premier League talking points

1 WENGER HAS NO PLANS TO CONTINUE IN ENGLAND

An emotional Arsene Wenger said farewell to Arsenal and probably England after downplaying the prospect of managing another Premier League club after the 1-0 win at Huddersfield on Sunday.

The 68-year-old Frenchman was in a pensive mood after his 1,235th and final game in charge.

He reflected on his "human experiences" in his time at Arsenal on a day of mixed emotions, while he spoke to reporters about his love for England and its football culture.

2 NEWCASTLE OWNER EAGER FOR BENITEZ TO STAY

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has worked miracles with a thin squad and limited funds, helping the club secure a 10th spot.

The Magpies ended the campaign with a 3-0 win over Chelsea and owner Mike Ashley knows how crucial it is for the club to hang on to his services.

The Spaniard, who has a year left on his contract, has been critical of Newcastle's poor transfer dealings throughout the season, but Ashley has promised to "ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him" next term.

3 ZAHA SET TO ATTRACT INTEREST FROM TOP SIDES

Wilfried Zaha netted his ninth goal of the season as 11th-placed Crystal Palace rounded off their season with a 2-0 home win over relegated West Bromwich Albion.

It was the Ivory Coast forward's fifth goal in his last six appearances as he capped a superb season, having played a part in all of Palace's 11 league wins.

While the 25-year-old declared post-game that Palace "was his home", Liverpool and Manchester City are among a host of clubs said to be interested in him this summer.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Mentality key to historic feat: PEP'. Print Edition | Subscribe