The 2018-19 Premier League will be forever known for an epic title fight for the ages.
A battle between Manchester City and Liverpool in which neither would blink went down to the final day of the season and when the smoke cleared it was Pep Guardiola’s City lifting the trophy for the second straight year.
“I think first we have to say congratulations Liverpool as well – and thank you of course – because they helped us to push and improve our standard from last season,” Guardiola said.
“I think last season we made their standard higher, and Liverpool have helped us being there all the time.”
Liverpool looked on course for a first title in 29 years when they visited City on January 3 with a chance to go 10 points clear.
But the defending champions fought prevailed 2-1, throwing the first punch in a heavyweight fight that would have made Muhammad Ali proud.
It was Liverpool’s only defeat of the season and and opened the door for City, who would go top in February.
And with both never seemingly playing simultaneously, there would be 32 changes atop the table the rest of the way.
“I have to say congratulations to City,” Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp, who side finished on 97 points, said.
”They played an incredible season.
“97 points is incredible, and only because City are there it was not enough.
“In each other country, it would have been easily enough. But here, that’s how it is”.
City’s 98 points were second-most ever in England, behind only their record haul of 100 a year ago.
The sides’ combined 195 points were 14 more than the previous high, while their 62 combined wins (32 for City, 30 for Liverpool) were also a record.
Both closed like champions with City winning their last 14 games and Liverpool ending unbeaten in 17.
“It was the hardest and most satisfying Premier League title win ever,” City captain Vincent Kompany said.
“Liverpool were exceptional this year and I don’t mean to rub it in – it is what it is – they didn’t deserve to be second this year.”
Chelsea finished a distant 25 points behind Liverpool in third, but it was enough to earn a Champions League place along with Tottenham.
Arsenal, in their first season under Unai Emery, and Manchester United were behind then to claim places in the Europa League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers surprised everyone by finishing seventh in their return to the Premier League and will also qualify for the Europa League if City win Saturday’s FA Cup final against Watford, who claim the spot if they prevail.
The other two promoted sides weren’t as lucky as Cardiff City and Fulham went straight back down, along with Huddersfield.
Cardiff were struck by tragedy in January as striker Emiliano Sala was killed in a plane crash as he was flying to join the club after signing from French side Nantes.
That came just three months after Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha perished when his helicopter crashed outside the club’s stadium following an October game.
Leicester were one of five teams changing manager during the season, a number that grew on Monday when Brighton parted ways with Chris Hughton.
The biggest of those took place at Manchester United, where Jose Mourinho’s turbulent reign ended in December.
Former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim before being given the job permanently after a run of 14 wins from 19 games.
But United sputtered down at the stretch, going winless over their last five games to finish a whopping 32 points behind Man City.
“We have a very, very big job ahead of us and we all want to get back to where we belong which is higher up the table,” Solskjaer said. “At the moment, there are two teams far ahead of us.
“We’re four or five, six points behind the next positions and we’ve got to claw ourselves closer to the top two and the others.”
On the statistical front, Liverpool team-mates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shared the Golden Boot as top scorer with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on 22 goals apiece, while Liverpool’s Alisson Becker won the Gold Glove with 21 clean sheets.