Gift-wrapped: Manchester City crowned champions

Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) has this headed effort saved by West Bromwich Albion's English goalkeeper Ben Foster (not pictured) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West Bomwich Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on April 15, 2018. (AFP / PAUL ELLIS)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Gift-wrapped: Manchester City crowned champions

LONDON: Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions on Sunday as Manchester United crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion.
City had moved within touching distance of the title with a 3-1 win at Tottenham on Saturday.
They clinched the silverware 24 hours later thanks to Albion forward Jay Rodriguez’s 73rd minute header at Old Trafford.
City captain Vincent Kompany led the celebrations, tweeting: “Champions! What a great feeling! So happy to be able to share another trophy with our amazing fans!“
United had denied City the chance to wrap up the title last weekend when they came from two goals down to beat their bitter rivals 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium.
But Jose Mourinho’s men still ended up handing the trophy to City with a lackluster display against bottom of the table Albion, who had won only three times in the league this season before this weekend.
“Manchester City, we won it for you” chanted West Brom fans at full-time as United supporters began jeering in frustration at their side gift-wrapping the title for City.
City manager Pep Guardiola is the first Spaniard to win the English title.
He and Mourinho are old rivals from their time in Spain when the United boss managed Real Madrid.
Mourinho was hardly effusive in his praise when asked about City’s success, but did concede they deserved to be champions.
“I have won titles. City were the best team, sooner or later they would get the points, so no dramas when the best team wins the league,” Mourinho said.
“I saw lots of people in the moon because we won against City. You could see the difference in the attitude to players compared to last week. We deserve to be punished
“But do not tell City they won title because United did not win, it is not fair on them.”
City are 16 points clear of second placed United, who can only take a maximum of 15 points from their remaining five games.
Winning the title with five matches to go makes City the joint earliest champions in the Premier League era — matching the achievement of the 2000-01 Manchester United team.
“Our Time. Our City. Premier League Champions 17/18,” City posted on their official Twitter account.
It is the fifth time City have been English champions and the third time in the last seven seasons.
City defender Benjamin Mendy, who missed most of the season due to injury, turned social media blue as he tweeted: “We are f*****g champions congratulations boys!“
Guardiola had planned a day of golf with his son Marius on Sunday, so the Spaniard might have learned of his first Premier League while on the course.
Speaking after the win over Tottenham, Guardiola admitted winning the title in England would be one of the greatest achievements of his glittering career.
He won three league titles with Barcelona and twice lifted the Champions League trophy during his Camp Nou reign.
The 47-year-old also took the German title three times with Bayern Munich, but he believes the unique strength in depth and physical demands of the Premier League makes this triumph among his very best.
He also conceded it was sweet to triumph in a country where some critics claimed his purist principles couldn’t flourish.
Guardiola and his players will have the chance to celebrate properly on Sunday when they host Swansea in their next fixture.
It was always a matter of when rather than if City would be champions after they led the way for most of the season.
Only in the last 10 days, as they lost to United and were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Liverpool, had City’s quality been called into question.
They gave a superb response with a swaggering win at fourth placed Tottenham.
Now, driven on by stars Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva, Guardiola’s men can focus on establishing themselves among the Premier League’s all-time great teams.
Some pundits are already ranking City — who at one stage this season won a record 18 successive league games — alongside Manchester United’s 1999 treble winners and the 2003-04 Arsenal ‘Invincibles’.
While it may be premature to place City in that rarified air, they could make a case by breaking the Premier League points record of 95 set by Chelsea in 2004-05.
 


Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

Updated 23 April 2018
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Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

  • Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
  • Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.

LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash 
at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.”
Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million).
But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory.
“He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”

 

HEART OF GOLD

Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”