Champions Manchester City given rapturous reception ahead of Chelsea match
Manchester City arrived at the Etihad Stadium to heroes’ welcomes on Sunday following confirmation of their fifth Premier League title in six years.
City’s lead at the top of the table became insurmountable when closest challengers Arsenal were beaten at Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening.
That meant Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea became a celebratory occasion regardless of the result.
City fans gathered in large numbers at the entrance to the stadium as the team arrived for the 4pm kick-off.
Blue flares were let off and the players were greeted with chants of ‘champions’ as they stepped off the bus.
City’s title success, sealed with three games to spare, could be the first leg of a glorious treble for Pep Guardiola’s side, with FA Cup and Champions League finals to come next month.
Speaking to Sky Sports before the match, Guardiola said: “Every Premier League is special. And of course when you are three in a row it means the consistency that we had.
“Especially against the opponents – in the past it was Liverpool, and this year against an incredible Arsenal. That’s why you give credit to the quality of your opponents. Both teams bring us to our limits.”
On City’s celebrations, he added: “We were not all together yesterday. Today was the first time we were together, not just the players and the backroom staff, we have our chairman here, our CEO, sporting director, they made speeches for all of us.
“They are incredibly happy, like we are. We didn’t have a meeting today so we just arrive here, see the line-up from (Chelsea boss) Frank (Lampard) to see the shape they’re going to play.
“We talked a little bit the way we have to move and try to finish well our last game at home.”
Chelsea players lined up for a guard of honour for their City counterparts, who walked out onto the pitch with their children, with ‘Blue Moon’ ringing around the stadium before kick-off.