Manchester City never do it the easy way, but a dramatic 3-2 win over Aston Villa on Sunday confirmed Pep Guardiola’s side as the Premier League champions for the fourth time in five seasons.

After nine months of hard work, the title was ultimately won in five crazy minutes, with Ilkay Gundogan coming off the bench to score a brace and engrain himself in City folklore.

Matty Cash and ex-Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho gave Steven Gerrard’s men a two-goal lead with 15 minutes to play, but the German, either side of Rodri’s side-footed finish, turned the game completely on its head to send the Etihad Stadium into wild celebrations.

ALSO READ: Pep Guardiola says Man City legends defied logic to win Premier League

Amassing 93 points, there have been some vital results along the way. So, in no particular order – and putting to one side Sunday’s events – here are the five key games that crowned City the Premier League champions:

1. Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City – 25th September 2021

Going all the way back to September, City endured a typically slow start to the season and had already dropped points against Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton. They began a horror week – which included trips to PSG and Liverpool – with a visit to Stamford Bridge to face European champions, Chelsea.

Guardiola knew a victory would kickstart City’s season and deal a major blow to one of the strong early contenders. In a game that the Blues largely dominated, Gabriel Jesus’ excellent turn and finish was enough to take all three points and claim the first real scalp of the season.

2. Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City – 1st December 2021

It feels strange that two games against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa may have swung the title in City’s favour, but this victory back in the midst of winter was certainly a satisfying one for Guardiola.

Covid was still rife in the Premier League and an outbreak at the City Football Academy had left Guardiola with limited personnel to take to Villa Park. With a threadbare first-team squad, mixed with some EDS talent, a Bernardo Silva-inspired performance earned City a crucial win on the road.

Dias gave City the lead early on and Silva finished off an inch-perfect counterattack with a sweet volley just before half-time. Ollie Watkins got one back for the hosts, but City stood firm and came away from a nightmare squad situation with a victory.

Silva scored a sweet volley against Aston Villa in early December 2021

3. Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City – 1st January 2022

It’s fair to say City have had some incredible late goals this season, but nothing more dramatic than Rodri’s 93rd-minute winner against Arsenal on New Year’s Day.

The Blues were on a dominant winning run, but Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were worthy opponents and took a deserved lead through Bukayo Saka. City’s never-say-die attitude needed to be on full display, and Riyad Mahrez’s penalty showed great character under some immense pressure.

Then, when all hope of a win had seemingly been lost, a long ball by Kevin De Bruyne ricocheted back to Rodri and the Spaniard poked home a precious winner – cueing wild celebrations.

4. Everton 0-1 Manchester City – 26th February 2022

A day where City were, by far, not at their thrilling best, but found a way to win the game.

Phil Foden was the hero that day, capitalising on the slightest lapse in concentration in the Everton defence, but after a damaging defeat to Spurs a week prior, it was just the scrappy result City needed.

5. West Ham 2-2 Manchester City – 15th May 2022

There is a shout for either Manchester Derby win or beating Chelsea at the Etihad, but how vital does that comeback at the London Stadium feel like now?

Drawing similarities with Sunday, City looked dead and buried at half-time after a Jarred Bowen brace, but they dug deep and brought the scores level in the second half – even having the chance to win the game from the spot late on.

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