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Ilkay Gundogan praises Manchester City’s ‘special’ squad after title triumph

Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan praised a collective effort after Pep Guardiola’s side were crowned Premier League champions once again following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

The Gunners needed to win to delay City’s title celebrations ahead of their home match against Chelsea on Sunday.

However, Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half goal proved enough to give Forest victory in front of a raucous home crowd, which secured their own top-flight status once again.

Guardiola’s side will lift the Premier League trophy on Sunday for a third successive campaign, and a fifth time in six seasons, sealed with three matches to spare.

City had overhauled Arsenal’s eight-point lead as Mikel Arteta’s men faltered, winning 11 Premier League games in a row including a 4-1 victory over their rivals at the end of April.

Unbeaten in their last 23 games through all competitions, City have also reached the finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League as they remain on course for the treble.

“To have helped the club win a third straight Premier League title is something very special,” Gundogan said on the Manchester City website.

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland celebrates scoring
Erling Haaland’s goals have helped fire Manchester City to another Premier League title (Peter Byrne/PA)

“The Premier League is without doubt the most demanding and competitive league in the world so that tells you everything about what an achievement this is.

“This squad is so talented and so special and to have been captain this season has been an enormous privilege.”

German midfielder Gundogan added: “I would also like to thank Pep, all the backroom staff and everyone who works across this football club.

“Every single day they help provide us as players with everything we need in order to try to be successful. There is no way we could have won this title without all their support.

Manchester City fans celebrate outside of the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City fans have been celebrating outside of the Etihad Stadium after winning the Premier League title once again (Martin Rickett/PA)

“To have won this trophy three times in a row and five times in six years is incredible. That quality and consistency helps sum up what Manchester City stand for and ensures the club will continue to strive for success going forward.

“It has been a season I will never forget. Our amazing fans have been with us every single step of the way.

“Without their amazing backing I don’t think there is any way we would have been able to achieve what we have done these past six seasons.

“Their passion and support have been so important and inspirational for us all. Hopefully winning the Premier League title again is a fitting way for us to say thank you to our fans.”

Erling Haaland’s goals helped fire City to the title, as the Norway forward set a new Premier League record with 36 so far.

He wrote on Twitter: “Always give your best. Always believe. It pays off. C’MON CITY!”

City defender Aymeric Laporte posted: “What a season tho. Credit to absolutely everyone involved from top to bottom.

“Every one of use fought for this. More to come soon hopefully but we can already be proud of this one.”

Arsenal had been insatiable for most of the campaign, spending 248 days on top of the table before their late collapse handed City an opportunity to ruthlessly hunt them down.

City defender Kyle Walker said: “Arsenal pushed us right to the limit they’ve been fantastic, so all credit to them.

“We just went on an incredible run, they had a few hiccups and we capitalised on it and we’ve managed to end up where we have now.

“It’s the players we’ve got. We’re a bunch of lads who have achieved so much over the last number of years and we understand the standards we’ve set.

“We achieved so much over the past five or six years, but we knew the bar wasn’t high enough at the start of the season.

“When we came back after the World Cup, we had to kick on and fair play to the lads.

“We wanted to prove anyone doubting us wrong – it wasn’t good enough.

“With the lads we have in the dressing room we always believe we can do something.

“The standards of the Premier League have gone up, but this is what this club is built for, certainly that’s how it’s been for the six years I’ve been here, so fair play to everyone involved.

“You’ve got to be ready at the business end of the season because that’s what this club is all about and what we are built for.”

City greeted their fans on Sunday morning by tweeting: “It is time for the @premierleague champions to take on Chelsea!” ahead of the 4pm kick-off at the Etihad.