Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal
Manchester City have been crowned the 2022-23 Premier League champions without kicking a ball, following Arsenal’s 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest.
Taiwo Awoniyi’s 19th minute goal was enough to seal a victory, which also secures Forest’s Premier League survival.
Pep Guardiola’s side, with three games to play, are on 85 points, four ahead of Arsenal who only have one game remaining. The club also have a Champions League final to look forward to, where they will be favourites to defeat Inter Milan, following their dismantling of defending champions Real Madrid on Wednesday.
It is City’s fifth league title in six years.
The treble is on the cards, as they face neighbours and fierce rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
The club have been charged by the Premier League with 115 alleged breaches of financial rules between 2009 and 2018. An independent commission will rule on the charges, which could see City docked points or even expelled from the Premier League if proven.
The Gunners, who were insatiable for most of the campaign, had spent 248 days on top of the table and held an eight-point lead over City in March, but an alarming slide saw them overtaken by Guardiola’s relentless juggernaut.
City’s champagne has been on ice for a couple of weeks as the Gunners, who also wilted badly at the end of last campaign, have won just two of their last eight Premier League games. However, they are confirmed runners-up going into their final game of the season next week.
For Forest, this was a real red letter day as they secured their survival against the odds.
For large parts of the season, which began with more than 20 new signings, they looked destined to return straight back to the Championship, not least when they were on an 11-game winless run going into the end of April.
But Awoniyi’s hot streak, with five goals in three games, helped Steve Cooper’s side lift themselves out of the bottom three and they can no longer be caught by Southampton, Leicester or Everton.
It completes an impressive job by Cooper, who repaid Forest for the faith they showed when backing him amid their poor run, and his stock continues to rise.
Everton’s draw at Wolves earlier in the day meant Forest came into the game knowing a win would guarantee their safety.
And backed by a vociferous home crowd, desperate to see their side secure survival at the place where they have won so many of their points this season, they made a strong start as Arsenal’s defence survived some early pressure.
The Gunners began to assert some level of control and Gabriel Jesus was denied by Forest goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who came out quickly to smother the ball, while the Brazilian nodded over at the far post.
But the City Ground exploded in the 19th minute as Forest punished their visitors with a lightning counter-attack.
Martin Odegaard loosely passed straight to Morgan Gibbs-White who surged forward at pace before feeding Awoniyi, who enjoyed a bit of fortune as Gabriel’s challenge bobbled against his leg and he scuffed past Aaron Ramsdale.
Arsenal had plenty of possession but lacked the creativity and guile to break Forest down in the first half, with Leandro Trossard and Jesus sending efforts tamely off target.
Forest vitally ensured they took their lead into the interval and could have doubled it soon after the restart.
After recycling a free-kick, Renan Lodi’s ball back in found Felipe and his shot from close range was blocked.
It was more of the same for the Gunners, who had plenty of the ball but did little with it. Bukayo Saka did have a moment of promise when he was played in but he fired straight at Navas.
Instead it was Forest who were pushing for a second and Gibbs-White squandered a good chance when he found the side-netting after taking advantage of Ben White’s slip, before Lodi drilled wide.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes with the holy grail of survival in touching distance, Forest began to sit deep and invite pressure on themselves.
It is unsurprising that nerves were so fraught as no side have conceded more goals in the final 15 minutes of matches than Forest’s 17 and every tackle, block and clearance was greeted with cheers as loud as a goal.
Gibbs-White fired straight at Ramsdale as Forest looked to make it a less tense ending for them, but Arsenal’s poor attacking display meant they were able to hold on to spark mass scenes of celebration.