Minuscule margins decided a fascinating duel between two sides that strung together flawless runs at the back-end of the season.
Editors note: This article was published on May 13th, 2019 and has been republished for those who may have missed it.
It could have all been so different but for a few close calls that ultimately swung the pendulum in the favour of the reigning champions. Even up until the last day, it looked as though the two could not be separated.
The leadership of the Premier League had changed hands 32 times prior to kickoff yesterday with just a point separating City & Liverpool. Perhaps it was fitting that both sides won on the final day because that became a habit for England's only two title contenders.
Liverpool would take the lead against Wolves through Sadio Mané, their Senegalese star that ended up sharing the Golden Boot with two other African strikers. Then, news of a Brighton goal against Manchester City filtered through only for it to be a false alarm resulting from the mischief of Wolves fans at Anfield. However, a real Brighton goal was scored and Liverpool fans believed an upset was on the cards, with tangible emotion showing on the faces of supporters and audible excitement building. 83 seconds later, Sergio Aguero equalized and started City's comeback that would regain them their crown on the final day. Riyad Mahrez, who insists that he's happy at the club, got personal retribution for his missed penalty at Anfield earlier in the season by adding a third.
Liverpool came so agonisingly close to a first title in 29 years, but City's ability to grind out a 14th consecutive win means that they were deserving champions. Klopp's Reds team ended the season on 97 points, having suffered just one defeat -- against City in early January -- but they have to contend with second place and there's absolutely no shame in that.
Speaking of millimetres, it was 11 units of that measurement that separated the ball and the back of the line when John Stones cleared miraculously to deny Liverpool (on that day of their only defeat) and keep the scoreline at 0-0. If Liverpool had gone on to win that, they would have been 10 points clear in the title race. Evergreen goalscorer Aguero scored before the break, City held on to win 1-0 and the gap at the summit was reduced to four.
Fast forward to 28 April, just a few fixtures ago, and it would be Aguero again on-hand to score a vital goal for City away to Burnley, and again it was millimetres at play, this time the Argentine's bundled effort cleared the line by 29 millimetres and City were celebrating the sort of win that sides look back on as definitive when silverware is handed out.
City's remarkable run of 14 three-pointers on the spin was matched by Liverpool who won nine consecutive matches in the run-in. Magical moments were in plentiful supply from both sides; who can forget Kompany's screamer against Leicester, Salah's against Chelsea, Origi's 96th-minute winner in the Merseyside Derby, Raheem Sterling's demolition of Chelsea and so many more. Both sets of players dazzled their supporters but also got the job done and ground out wins when they weren't at their best.
Virgil van Dijk and Aymeric Laporte have proved to be two excellent defensive additions to sides already known for their attacking brilliance, while both clubs boast brilliant Brazilians in goal. Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is a world star in the making and will contest his second Champions League final at the tender age of 20.
There is no doubt that these two will rival one another for the title again next season and the Premier League is richer for that rivalry.
It's often millimetres that make the difference in massive matches, especially when opponents are neck-and-neck as they cross the line.
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