Pep Guardiola was central to the squad celebrations after Nottingham’s 1-0 win over Arsenal confirmed Man City as the 2022/23 Premier League champions.
Manchester City gathered to watch Arsenal’s early evening trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The side surely knew that another slip up from the Gunners would see them crowned champions before kicking a ball against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. And sure enough, Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal was enough to seal a fifth title win in six seasons for the Spanish boss.
But he’s not the only one to boast that record at the Etihad. Defender Stones signed for Guardiola from Everton for a fee of £50million in August 2016. Indeed, the defender has been a revelation this season in particular, playing a more advanced role as City charge towards a potential Treble.
After the final whistle went at the City Ground, Guardiola was filmed passionately embracing his players. After hugging Stones, he held up five fingers to mark their shared achievement. The 28-year-old responded with an identical gesture, with one City fan posting the footage with the caption: “So, how many Premier League titles is that for you both?”
Stones’ defensive play has previously come under criticism in his seven years at City. But last month the man now dubbed the ‘Barnsley Beckenbauer’ insisted the doubts never hampered his desire: “I’ve always been a fighter ever since my early days when I was told I was too small,” he said. “There was no way I wanted to miss out on being part of the success at Manchester City. It’s a club that can achieve what ever it wants and I want to remain part of that ambition.”
Fans also gathered on the streets and outside the stadium, with the Chelsea clash now set to represent a celebration for the Citizens. The venue itself was illuminated last night with a picture of the players and the message: “Premier League champions. 3-in-a-row.”
But for both manager and his star centre back, the campaign is anything but over with two trophies still to play for. City play rivals United in the first ever all-Manchester FA Cup final on June 3, a week before a date with destiny in the Champions League final against Inter Milan in Istanbul.
Europe’s top prize is one that Stones is yet to taste as a player, whilst despite two past successes with Barcelona, Guardiola has admitted his City legacy will be tainted if he doesn’t lift it during his tenure.
And the English club will be resounding favourites after their semi final dismantling of Real Madrid.
England international Stones played the last time City reached the final, losing 1-0 to Chelsea in 2020/21 in Porto. The club’s only European trophy to date is the 1969/70 European Cup Winners’ Cup.