Manchester City’s 5-0 demolition of Norwich City on the final day of the Premier League season was an impressive way to end the campaign.
However, the title had long since headed to Merseyside, with City eventually finishing 18 points behind newly-crowned champions Liverpool.
The gap will undoubtedly be a source of frustration for manager Pep Guardiola, who predictably prefers winning to finishing second.
Read on as we look at the latest state-of-play at the Etihad Stadium and assess some of the key issues City must address if they are to improve next time around.
Goals Galore But no Title
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Having collected 198 points on their way to two successive titles, City went into the season as favourites with Betfred to make it three-in-row. This was despite Liverpool’s record run in 18/19 where they attained a points total that would have won them the title any other season. Given City’s dominance, the talk pre-season was whether City could maintain their edge, or whether Liverpool would, like some betting experts were suggesting, capitalise on their strong end to the season and win their first title since 1990?
Unfortunately for City, it became clear from an early stage that Guardiola’s side would have their work cut out, with Liverpool romping into an early lead that they never looked like relinquishing. An injury to Aymeric Laporte didn’t help matters and placed increasing focus on Guardiola’s failure to buy a suitable replacement for Vincent Kompany. Liverpool took over the mantle of betting favourites before September was over and won the title at a canter.
A tally of 102 league goals proved that City still possess the firepower to blow teams away, but nine defeats highlights the inconsistencies that blighted their season.
City Keep Hold of the Carabao
Manchester City secured their third successive Carabao Cup this term – and their fourth in five years – with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.
Goals by Sergio Aguero and Rodri put City in control of the game and although Mbwana Samatta pulled one back for Villa they were unable to complete a comeback.
City’s hopes of retaining the FA Cup ended at the semi-final stage, with Arsenal producing a disciplined display to seal a 2-0 victory.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang highlighted his importance to the Gunners with a pair of goals and an overall performance that exposed City’s fragile backline.
A Tough Task in the Champions League
If City are going to win the Champions League for the first time in their history, they are going to have to do it the hard way.
They hold a 2-1 lead after the first leg of their round of 16 meeting with Real Madrid and are favourites to complete the job back on home soil.
If City can navigate their way past the La Liga champions, they would most likely face Juventus in the quarter-finals and that would be no easy task.
Bayern Munich or Barcelona will probably be awaiting in the last four, giving City a mountain to climb if they are going to lift the trophy.
City Waving Goodbye to a Legend
The word ‘legend’ is thrown around a little to easily in football, but it is an appropriate moniker to attach to David Silva.
The playmaker made his final league appearance for City against Norwich and was applauded off the field by both sets of players when he was substituted near the end of the game.
Silva has won 11 major trophies during his time with the club and the 34-year-old will be a tough act to follow at the Etihad.
His popularity with fans of other teams is a mark of the classy way he has handled himself during his time in the Premier League and he’ll be sorely missed.
City 20/21 Prediction: Relinquishing the Premier League title to Liverpool was a bitter pill to swallow and City will be keen to wrestle it back next time around.
Buying a top-class partner for Laporte in the 2020 summer transfer window will be crucial to their hopes. If Guardiola can address that issue, City will be a good bet to regain top spot.