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City break Chelsea record thanks to Lukaku howler, wrap up Premier League title before Christmas

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After only 16 of 38 rounds played, the Premier League title race is over. Congratulations to Pep Guardiola for leading Manchester City to their first title in four seasons. Record spending does pay off!

City, who have yet to lose this season, also broke Chelsea’s record from last season with their 14th win in a row in a single season. (Arsenal once won 14 in a row as well, but it spanned two seasons.)

Sure, there are still 22 games left to play. An 11-point lead is mathematically not unassailable. But practically, there is no hope. Who’s going to stop City? United at home, with José Mourinho pulling the strings were the last best hope, but The Special One’s masterplan was undone by terrible set piece defending. When Manchester City are scoring on corners and indirect free kicks, we might as well just pack up and all go home.

That City’s winner came from a horrendous bit of defending from Chelsea old boy Romelu Lukaku, who hacked his clearance straight into the back of his own teammate, with the rebound finding Nicolás Otamendi, who gleefully smacked it past David De Gea. Not even De Gea could save that one.

In fact, the best save of the game came at the other end, with Éderson’s double dip on two ex-Chelsea fan favorites sealing the deal for the visitors at Old Trafford. First, Lukaku somehow contrived to blast the ball straight at the goalkeeper with the rest of the goal gaping invitingly, then Juan Mata’s poached follow-up was saved as well.

Marcus Rashford had given hope for United and the chasing pack when he capitalized on a defensive error by Otamendi and Fabian Delph, but it was not to be. The day, just like the league, belonged to Manchester City.

source: Soccerway

On the plus side, United losing means that the damage from Chelsea’s shock defeat to West Ham has been largely mitigated. Liverpool and Arsenal both dropped points as well, and while Spurs (...and Burnley?...) did win this weekend, they remain four points and several places behind.

Liverpool will no doubt feel hard done by as Everton grabbed a late-ish equalizer thanks to yet another bit of bonehead defending from Dejan Lovren, who bundled over Dominic Calwert-Lewin in the area for Wayne Rooney to blast home from the spot. Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp was apoplectic on the sidelines, as well as after the final whistle; wonder if the FA stay consistent and charge him next after ringing up Antonio Conte on much weaker charges recently ... he asked naively.

Arsenal meanwhile clawed back a point at Southampton with Olivier Giroud’s 88th minute equalizer. They will be next to test their mettle against suddenly resilient West Ham United on Wednesday, while Liverpool and United get gimmes with West Brom at home and Swansea away, respectively. Chelsea travel to Huddersfield, which is likely to be harder but with the top four race truly on now, once again a must win.