The Manchester City machine sputters, but sneaks past Tottenham to the cusp of another EPL title

For 50-plus minutes, the Manchester City machine sputtered. It had roared to the cusp of a fourth-straight Premier League title. It needed two more wins, the first in an utterly strange environment Tuesday at Tottenham — where it nearly veered off course.

Nearly, but not quite.

In the 51st minute, the machine’s main cogs — Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland — combined for a goal.

In an occasionally frantic second half, backup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega stood on his proverbial head.

Haaland converted a late penalty, and City held on for a 2-0 victory.

It was their eighth Premier League win in a row, and it took them two points ahead of Arsenal at the top of the table, with just one game apiece to go. City will host West Ham on Sunday (11 a.m. ET). If the reigning champions win, they will reign again.

And if they do, they will achieve something that neither Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea nor Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal nor Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United nor Bob Paisley’s Liverpool ever did.

No club, in the 124-year history of English football, has ever won four consecutive top-flight titles. Manchester City, expertly steered by Pep Guardiola, and allegedly boosted by 100-plus breaches of financial rules, is 90 minutes away from becoming the first.

In 2020-21, they cruised to the first of their consecutive titles relatively unchallenged. Ever since, they have lured the league in to a now-familiar pattern. They’ve hit a few bumps in autumn and winter. Challengers — Liverpool in 2021-22, Arsenal in 2022-23, and both this season — have arisen. And then City, having found its rhythm, has sped past them.

In 2022, after a Feb. 19 defeat to Spurs, City closed with nine wins, three draws, no losses.

In 2023, a run of 14 wins and one draw in 15 EPL games clinched the title with more than a week to spare.

In 2024, the unbeaten run, spanning all competitions, now stands at 34 games. Since a Dec. 6 loss to Aston Villa, City has piled up 28 wins, six draws and, technically, zero blemishes — only a penalty shootout loss to Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

The 28th of those wins, though, was one of the nerviest. A sloppy first half left manager Pep Guardiola stalking back and forth between the sideline and his seat on the bench, frustrated, at times furious. Passes went awry. Spurs, stunningly, had more possession. The teams went to halftime deadlocked at 0-0 — and Arsenal fans perked up, increasingly optimistic that their biggest rival might do them a favor.

But City rose to meet the moment soon after halftime.

Even after the first City goal, Spurs were sprightly, and created several chances. But they couldn’t finish any. City returned to the top of the table. And, for another year, it’ll probably be there to stay.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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