10 moments that defined English Premier League title race

In a season of twists and turns there were plenty of crucial moments that helped to shape the title race.

In Summary

• Thrashing of city rivals Manchester United.

• De Bruyne's free-kick to outfox Leicester.

Erling Haaland celebrates in a past match
Erling Haaland celebrates in a past match
Image: /BBC

Manchester City have been crowned Premier League champions after fending off Arsenal's challenge to win the title for the third successive year.

They were pushed most of the way by Mikel Arteta's side, who spent much of the season at the top of the table but fell to defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday to hand City the title.

In a season of twists and turns there were plenty of crucial moments that helped to shape the title race.

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1. Erling Haaland's first goal for Manchester City

It seems like a lifetime ago but just before the season properly got under way we had the Community Shield in which Erling Haaland struggled in front of goal while Liverpool's Darwin Nunez shone as Liverpool won 3-1.

Plenty of criticism followed but, just over a week later, the Norwegian scored two goals on his Premier League debut as Manchester City beat West Ham 2-0.

That set the tone for the season and, although Bournemouth managed to keep him quiet in the next game, he then scored in City's next seven fixtures across all competitions - including back-to-back hat-tricks.

2. Thrashing of city rivals Manchester United

A Manchester derby is always to be savoured and the first of this season was no exception as Manchester City thrashed their rivals 6-3 at the start of October.

Haaland helped himself to a hat-trick as he continued his incredible hot streak in front of goal, with Phil Foden also scoring three times.

The emphatic nature of the win was all the more impressive because Manchester United were looking a much more imposing side under Erik ten Hag and had beaten Arsenal 3-1 just a few weeks before.

3. De Bruyne's free-kick to outfox Leicester

By the end of October, Haaland had started every game for Manchester City and had scored an incredible 22 goals, but he was missing for City's game at Leicester.

A win was needed by Pep Guardiola's side to move top of the table before rivals Arsenal played Nottingham Forest and the ever dependable Kevin de Bruyne stepped up.

Early in the second half, the visitors were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and De Bruyne arched a stunning strike over the wall and into the back of the net to secure the three points.

4. Haaland's last-minute penalty

With Arsenal enjoying a flying start to the season, Manchester City knew they could ill afford too many slips ups.

However, it looked like they had walked on a banana skin when newly promoted Fulham looked on course to end City's nine-match winning run at the Etihad in all competitions.

But in the 95th minute, the hosts were awarded a penalty when De Bruyne was fouled and Haaland kept his cool to step up and convert.

It was a dogged victory for City, who had played with 10 men from the 26th minute after Joao Cancelo was sent off, and one that moved them back ahead of Arsenal in the tug-of-war title race.

5. Mahrez goal off the bench

As the title race entered the new year, it was clear that Arsenal meant business and Manchester City would have a battle on to stage a successful defence.

On 5 January they travelled to Chelsea knowing defeat at Stamford Bridge would leave them eight points behind the Gunners.

Pep Guardiola's side were far from their best but the City boss used his bench superbly, sending on Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez on the hour mark and they made an almost immediate impact as the former set up the latter to score the only goal of the game.

City dug in to grind out the victory, showing the sort of sort of fight that is the trademark of champions.

6. City beat Arsenal to go top

A huge test of Arsenal's title credentials came on 15 February when they hosted Manchester City in the season's first top-of-the-table clash.

A win for the Gunners and they would move three points clear of City and likely deal a psychological blow to their rivals but a defeat would send Guardiola's side top of the table for the first time since November.

Bukayo Saka cancelled out De Bruyne's opener but late goals from Grealish - who was in incredible form since returning from the World Cup - and Haaland secured a huge win for the visitors.

It was a night many would argue caused a shift of momentum in the title race towards Manchester City.

7. Saliba suffers injury

Ask Arsenal for a reason their title challenge faltered and many will point to the injury suffered by William Saliba.

The young French defender was a rock at the back for the Gunners in the first half of the season but limped off in the Europa League tie with Sporting Lisbon on 16 March.

Arsenal also lost fellow defender Takehiro Tomiyasu in the same game and ultimately never recovered from the pair's absence.

They did not keep a clean sheet in their next seven Premier League games, with their next shut out coming in the 2-0 win at Newcastle on 7 May, by which point the title race was out of their own hands.

8. Arsenal losing a two-goal lead against Liverpool

Firmly into the business end of the season, Arsenal's young squad would face a test of their mental resilience as they travelled to Anfield looking for a first win at Liverpool since 2012.

After 28 minutes they were 2-0 up and on course to go eight points clear with just eight games remaining but then conceded twice to see a huge victory slip away from them.

It was the first indication that the pressure of the title race was affecting the Arsenal players. City now had full control of their own destiny as they sat six points behind the Gunners but with a game in hand and with a fixture against Arteta's men at the Etihad to come.

9. Saka's missed penalty a Hammer blow

Incredibly, Arsenal would let slip a two-goal lead in their very next game.

Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard had put them 2-0 up after 10 minutes at West Ham but Said Benrahma's 33-minute penalty and Jarrod Bowen's 54th minute strike meant the Gunners once again had to settle for a point.

However, the pivotal moment in the game really came early in the second half when Arsenal - 2-1 ahead at that point - won a penalty but failed to convert, with Saka shooting wide. Three minutes later the Hammers were level.

10. City thrash Arsenal to close in on title

Despite the damage done in April, Arsenal had one more chance to turn things back in their favour as they travelled to Manchester City for a decisive game in the title race.

At that point Arsenal were still top, five points clear of City and although Guardiola's side had two games in hand - a win for the Gunners would put them eight points clear and back in control of their own destiny.

It took just seven minutes for their hopes to be dashed as De Bruyne struck and in a one-sided game three further goals followed as City produced a masterclass on their way to ultimately winning 4-1.

The defeat was a crushing blow to the Gunners, whose chances of winning the title had dropped to just 10% according to some predictions. 

While few were backing Arsenal to turn it around after that point, defeat to Brighton a few weeks later all but confirmed their bid for a first Premier League title since 2004 was over.