NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Arsenal’s end-of-season collapse is complete. Manchester City is the English Premier League champion once again.
A 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest capped a stunning implosion by Arsenal in a title race that came to an end on Saturday, with City moving into an unassailable four-point lead without playing.
It is City’s seventh league crown in a 12-year period during which the Abu Dhabi-owned club has changed the face of the English game with its wealth and dominance under Pep Guardiola.
City’s latest title is the fifth in Guardiola’s seven years at the club and owes as much to its end-of-season streak of 11 straight victories as it does to a meltdown by Arsenal, just when a first league title since 2004 was in sight.
Arsenal led by eight points on April 1 but has since won only two of eight games, and won’t win the league despite being in first place for 248 days this season.
“It is a very sad day,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “We have been working for 11 months with that aim and have been on top for so many days. We have competed but we didn’t have enough.
“Now we must heal. It is very painful. I am extremely sad and I have to find a way to lift the players.”
A win at the City Ground likely would have delayed the inevitable but Taiwo Awoniyi’s 19th-minute goal brought an end to the title race with City still having three games to play.
The first of those is against Chelsea on Sunday, after which City’s players will lift the trophy.
The victory also ensured Forest was safe from relegation in its first season back in the top-flight since 1999 and its fans danced and swirled scarfs after the fulltime whistle as the players did a lap of appreciation.
“I’m really proud, really pleased and it just gives us a chance to keep building,” said Forest manager Steve Cooper, who has been leading a team in transition this season following a summer spending spree when 22 players were signed at a cost of $150 million.
Arsenal’s players had disappeared down the tunnel by that point after turning in another display that failed to match those earlier in the season, when the team’s attacking power was outshining even City.
With Gabriel Martinelli joining Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba on the injury list, the depth of Arsenal’s squad can again be called into question.
As can its spirit, which was crushed on Saturday when Martin Odegaard gave the ball away sloppily in central midfield and Morgan Gibbs-White sprinted through the middle before playing a pass through to Awoniyi. His finish was scruffy but it dribbled past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and into the bottom corner.
“The number of goals we have given to the opponents recently has cost us but we can’t put the guilt on someone,” Arteta said. “We should have been better as a team and in the last few weeks we fell short, for sure.”
Arsenal never seriously threatened Forest’s goal, only really having long-range shots and aimless balls into the box with players such as key attacking players Odegaard and Bukayo Saka unable to change the game.
“We could have played for three hours and we would not have (scored),” Arteta said.
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