Unforgettable photos: the best of the 2018-19 Premier League season

Photo editor Jonny Weeks reviews a tumultuous football season through some of its best, weirdest and most defining images

On an average weekend, The Guardian receives around 12,000 photographs from Premier League matches via its staff, agency and contributor photographers. That’s almost half a million images per season. Some capture extraordinary joy and despair; some bear witness to defining moments in the title race; some owe greatly to the creativity of the men and women behind the lenses; and some, like this first one from August, feature the rare but always amusing sight of a referee nearly getting thwacked by a ball.

August

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August 18: Referee Anthony Taylor attempts to get out of the way as Tottenham’s Ben Davies shoots at goal against Fulham.
August 18: the referee Anthony Taylor attempts to get out of the way as Tottenham’s Ben Davies shoots at goal against Fulham. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
  • Click on the images to see full captions and credits. All pictures are in chronological order.

August 19: Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola congratulates Sergio Aguero with a kiss on the cheek during their match against Huddersfield Town.
August 19: Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, congratulates Sergio Agüero with a kiss on the cheek during their match against Huddersfield. Photograph: Manchester City FC/Getty Images
August 20: Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their second goal against Crystal Palace.
August 20: Liverpool’s Sadio Mané celebrates scoring their second goal against Crystal Palace. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
August 26: Deandre Yedlin of Newcastle United and his teammates look dejected after his own goal against Chelsea.
August 26: DeAndre Yedlin of Newcastle and his teammates look dejected after the American’s own goal against Chelsea. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

September

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The most nauseating picture of the season came at Wembley in September when Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen inadvertently gouged the eye of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. As picture editors, we can become inured to violence and physical injury on the picture wires, but there was something particularly wince-inducing about this shot. Luckily, the Brazilian escaped without serious injury and went on to celebrate his late winner against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stage a few days later with an eye-patch celebration. Elsewhere, Sir Alex Ferguson was given a standing ovation at Old Trafford following his return to the club after emergency brain surgery in May. United finished the month in 10th place with 10 points from their opening seven fixtures – nine points behind the early pace-setters, Manchester City and Liverpool.

September 1: The ripped socks of Kyle Walker of Manchester City are seen during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United.
September 1: the ripped socks of Kyle Walker of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
September 1: Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton FC at Selhurst Park.
September 1: Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace mops his eye during the match against Southampton at Selhurst Park. Photograph: MB Media/Getty Images
September 15: Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur pokes Roberto Firmino of Liverpool in the eye.
September 15: Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham pokes Roberto Firmino of Liverpool in the eye. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
  • Click on the images to see full captions and credits. All pictures are in chronological order.

September 16: Everton’s Oumar Niasse shoots at goal against West Ham.
September 16: Everton’s Oumar Niasse shoots at goal against West Ham. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
September 22: Sir Alex Ferguson waves to fans prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford.
September 22: Sir Alex Ferguson waves to fans before the match between Manchester United and Wolves at Old Trafford. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
September 29: David De Gea of Manchester United watches the ball as a shot by Andriy Yarmolenko of West Ham United is deflected into the net.
September 29: David De Gea of Manchester United can only look on as a shot by Andriy Yarmolenko of West Ham is deflected into the net. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
September 29: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur signals for the ball against Huddersfield Town.
September 29: Harry Kane of Tottenham signals for the ball against Huddersfield. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
September 29: Troy Deeney of Watford pours Gatorade down himself against Arsenal.
September 29: Troy Deeney of Watford pours Gatorade down himself against Arsenal. Photograph: Holly Allison/TPI/REX/Shutterstock

October

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The first meeting between the league’s top two sides was a tight affair in which Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez was left ashen-faced at the final whistle after missing a last-minute penalty. He rocketed his effort over the bar – his fifth miss in eight spot-kicks. October was also marked by the death of the Leicester City chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, whose helicopter crashed as it departed the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s match with West Ham, killing all five people on board. The floral tributes at the stadium reflected the deep affection felt by Leicester supporters for the man who fuelled their title success in 2016. And undoubtedly my favourite image of the month came at Stamford Bridge where the Manchester United manager, José Mourinho, had to be restrained as he launched himself at a member of Chelsea’s backroom staff following a raucous goal celebration. It’s not so much Mourinho’s aggression that I like; rather, it’s the panic-stricken guy in the foreground on the radio. I have no idea who he is or what he’s saying but in my mind he’s radioing for back-up.

October 7. Riyad Mahrez reacts after a missed penalty against Liverpool at Anfield.
October 7: anguish for Riyad Mahrez after his missed penalty against Liverpool at Anfield. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Floral tributes to Leicester’s late chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha at King Power Stadium aheads of the Premier League match between Leicester City and Burnley.
Floral tributes to Leicester’s chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, at the King Power Stadium before Leicester’s match against Burnley. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City via Getty Images
October 20: Nathan Redmond of Southampton on the ball as the sun sets during their match against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
October 20: Nathan Redmond of Southampton on the ball as the sun sets during their match against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. Photograph: Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images
October 20: Jose Mourinho has to be restrained during a tunnel fracas after a late Chelsea equaliser at Stamford Bridge.
October 20: José Mourinho has to be restrained during a tunnel fracas after a late Chelsea equaliser at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
October 20: Huddersfield Town fans before the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Liverpool FC at John Smith’s Stadium.
October 20: Huddersfield fans before their match against Liverpool at the John Smith’s Stadium. Photograph: Ben Early/Getty Images
October 27: Deandre Yedlin of Newcastle United controls the ball in the air against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
October 27: DeAndre Yedlin of Newcastle acrobatically controls the ball against Southampton at St Mary’s. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

November

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November saw Tottenham spank Chelsea at Wembley and Manchester City claim victory in the first Manchester derby of the season. It also saw a miracle under the floodlights at the John Smith’s Stadium where Huddersfield beat Fulham to claim their first win and first home goal of the season. Yet the best image shot that day is, in my opinion, the one below – the silhouette of a solitary man, cigarette in hand, wandering before the glow of a distant floodlight. The old-school bank of floodlights seems to imbue the shot with nostalgia – it reminds me of traipsing home from winter fixtures in my youth.

November 5: A supporter arrives at The John Smith’s Stadium for Huddersfield Town v Fulham.
November 5: A supporter arrives at the John Smith’s Stadium for Huddersfield v Fulham. Photograph: Robbie Stephenson/JMP/REX/Shutterstock
November 11: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal battles for possession with Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
November 11: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal battles for possession with Raúl Jiménez of Wolves. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
November 24: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur scores his team’s first goal against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
November 24: Dele Alli of Tottenham scores his team’s first goal against Chelsea at Wembley. Photograph: Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
November 26: Ayoze Perez of Newcastle United is passed a note by Mikel Antia, assistant head coach, against Burnley at Turf Moor.
November 26: Ayoze Pérez of Newcastle is passed a note by Mikel Antía, the assistant head coach, against Burnley at Turf Moor. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
November 30: Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City scores his side’s first goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Cardiff City Stadium.
November 30: Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff scores his side’s first goal against Wolves at Cardiff City Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

December

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December was a month stained by abuse. First, a banana was thrown onto the pitch by a Tottenham fan after Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had scored against Spurs in the north London derby. Then, later that same week, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling was subjected to a torrent of insults by a section of Chelsea fans after winning a corner. Sterling, to his credit, reacted nonchalantly, and the incident ignited much-needed debate about how to curb abusive behaviour and racism within football. The best action photos of the month came at Anfield amid the pandemonium of Liverpool’s last-gasp win over Everton. The substitute Divock Origi scored in the 96th minute after Jordan Pickford’s error, and Liverpool’s relief was perfectly distilled in the shot below (featuring Virgil Van Dijk) with their sprawling, swirling mess of bodies and arms creating a dynamic image. Normally you’d want to see clean air around a subject to make them stand out, but not in this instance.

December 2: A banana thrown from Tottenham section lies on the pitch as Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks on.
December 2: A banana thrown from the Tottenham section lies on the pitch as Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks on. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
December 2: Divock Origi of Liverpool scores a late goal to defeat Everton.
December 2: Divock Origi of Liverpool scores a late goal to defeat Everton. Photograph: Robbie Stephenson/JMP/Rex/Shutterstock
December 2:Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomes celebrate Divock Origi’s goal against Everton.
December 2:Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez celebrate Divock Origi’s goal against Everton. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
December 8: James Maddison of Leicester City is given a piggy-back before playing Tottenham.
December 8: James Maddison of Leicester is given a piggy-back before playing Tottenham. Photograph: Graham Wilson/Action Plus via Getty Images
December 8: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City receives alleged abuse from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
December 8: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City suffered alleged abuse from Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock
December 9: Newcastle United’s Salomon Rondon wipes his face against Wolves.
December 9: Newcastle United’s Salomón Rondón wipes his face against Wolves. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
December 15: A steward in a rain poncho before the Premier League match at Craven Cottage between Fulham and West Ham United.
December 15: A steward in a rain poncho before the match at Craven Cottage between Fulham and West Ham United. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA
December 22: Manchester United’s interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates winning against Cardiff City.
December 22: Manchester United’s interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskær celebrates his arrival with an emphatic win at Cardiff City. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA
December 22: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal celebrates his goal against Burnley with Mesut Ozil.
December 22: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal celebrates his goal against Burnley with Mesut Özil. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
December 26: Eden Hazard of Chelsea leaps away from a tackle by Craig Cathcart of Watford at Vicarage Road.
December 26: Eden Hazard of Chelsea leaps clear of a tackle by Craig Cathcart of Watford at Vicarage Road. Photograph: Matthew Impey/REX/Shutterstock

January

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Eleven millimetres proved decisive when the top two teams met for the second time in the season. John Stones’s desperate clearance off of the line against Liverpool helped Manchester City to become the first and only team to defeat Jürgen Klopp’s men all season. Elsewhere, the game of the month – if not the game of the season – came at Molineux where Diogo Jota’s 93rd minute strike gave Wolves a pulsating 4-3 victory over Leicester. The image of delirious Wolves fans is layered with great facial expressions and is neatly juxtaposed with the image of a crestfallen Leicester manager Claude Puel, head in hands; the two extremes encapsulate the universal agonies and ecstasies of football.

January 2: West Ham’s Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell protest with a match official during their match against Brighton.
January 2: West Ham’s Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell protest to a match official during their match against Brighton. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters
January 3: John Stones of Manchester City makes a goal-line clearance against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
January 3: John Stones of Manchester City makes a vital goal-line clearance against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
January 13: Everton’s Richarlison squares up to Bournemouth’s Steve Cook.
January 13: Everton’s Richarlison squares up to Bournemouth’s Steve Cook. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters
January 13: A Manchester United fan taunts the Tottenham fans by gesturing the scoreline.
January 13: A Manchester United fan taunts Tottenham fans by indicating the scoreline. Photograph: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images
January 19: Wolverhampton Wanderers fans celebrate after Diogo Jota scored their fourth goal against Leicester.
January 19: Wolves fans celebrate after Diogo Jota scored their fourth goal against Leicester. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Images via Reuters
January 19: Leicester City manager Claude Puel reacts as Wolverhampton Wanderers staff celebrate Diogo Jota’s late goal.
January 19: the Leicester manager, Claude Puel, reacts as Wolves staff celebrate Diogo Jota’s late goal. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters
January 20: Huddersfield Town fans watch a message from recently departed manager David Wagner on the scoredboard at half time against Manchester City.
January 20: Huddersfield Town fans watch a message from their recently departed manager David Wagner on the scoreboard at half-time against Manchester City. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
January 29: Cardiff players gather for a period of silence in memory of missing striker Emiliano Sala before playing Arsenal.
January 29: Cardiff players gather for a period of silence in memory of the missing striker Emiliano Sala before playing Arsenal. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

February

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I’m not sure if the shot looking down on the tattooed Manchester City fan was set up or happenstance (presumably the former); either way it’s a cracker. City won their match with Arsenal 3-1 that day thanks to a Sergio Agüero hat-trick – his 14th for the club. Yet City still trailed Liverpool by two points having played a game more. By the end of the month, the gap was down to one point after both teams had played 28 games. Also worth a mention is the shot of Newcastle United’s Miguel Almirón being royally upended by Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith. Needless to say Smith got a red card.

February 2: Sergio Rico of Fulham reacts in dismay as Jeffrey Schlupp of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring.
February 2: Sergio Rico of Fulham reacts in dismay as Jeffrey Schlupp of Crystal Palace celebrates scoring. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images
February 2: A black cat runs onto the pitch during the Premier League match between Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Goodison Park.
February 2: A black cat runs onto the pitch during the match between Everton and Wolves at Goodison Park. Photograph: Tony McArdle - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images
February 3: A Manchester City fan with a Manchester City tattoo on his head outside the stadium before the match with Arsenal.
February 3: A Manchester City fan with a club tattoo on his head outside the stadium before the match with Arsenal. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Aguero
February 3: Sergio Agüero watches the ball cross the line to score his and Manchester City’s third goal as Arsenal’s Bernd Leno tries in vain to save it. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
February 9: Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield Town arrives before the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Arsenal at John Smith’s Stadium.
February 9: Aaron Mooy of Huddersfield arrives before the match against Arsenal at the John Smith’s Stadium. Photograph: John Early/Getty Images
February 23: Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron reacts after a challenge from Huddersfield Town’s Tommy Smith which led to a red card.
February 23: Newcastle United’s Miguel Almirón is upended by a challenge from Huddersfield Town’s Tommy Smith which led to a red card. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters
February 27: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United steams during the match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park.
February 27: Steam rises from Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United during their match at Crystal Palace. Photograph: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images
February 2: Gonzalo Higuain of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.
February 2: Gonzalo Higuaín of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

March

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With Huddersfield and Fulham cut adrift long before Spring, Cardiff were the only team in the bottom three with any hope of staying up come March. Predictably, Neil Warnock flipped when Chelsea were wrongly awarded a late goal, despite it being clearly offside, as the Blues came from behind to beat the Bluebirds 2-1. Warnock stormed onto the pitch at the final whistle and stared at the officials before aiming his wrath at poor David Luiz. Forget the goals, Warnock going ballistic was the defining frame that day. Another good image is the one of Everton fans showing their appreciation, so to speak, for Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

March 3: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is jeered by the Everton fans at Goodison Park.
March 3: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is jeered by Everton fans at Goodison Park. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
March 9: David Silva of Manchester City prepares to take a free kick against Watford at Etihad Stadium.
March 9: David Silva of Manchester City prepares to take a free-kick against Watford at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Tom Flathers/Man City via Getty Images
March 9:9 Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins ingets headlocked by Brighton’s Glenn Murray.
March 9: Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins gets headlocked by Brighton’s Glenn Murray. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters
March 16: Leicester City manager Brendan Rogers is all smiles as his side face Burnley.
March 16: The Leicester manager, Brendan Rodgers, is all smiles as his side face Burnley. Photograph: Paul Currie/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
March 30: Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace warms up ahead of the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park.
March 30: Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace warms up before the match against Huddersfield at Selhurst Park. Photograph: Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
March 31: Cardiff manager Neil Warnock has words with Chelsea player David Luiz.
March 31: The Cardiff manager, Neil Warnock, lets off steam to Chelsea’s David Luiz. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
March 31: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores the winner during against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.
March 31: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores the winner against Tottenham at Anfield. Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

April

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Many months overdue and with their brief title hopes having already evaporated, Tottenham finally exited Wembley and moved into their new home. And what a home. Costing £1 billion and designed by Christopher Lee, the 62,062-seater stadium was lit up by pre-match pyrotechnics for its first Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace. Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min became the first player to score there as he guided the Lilywhites to a winning start on home soil, but the back pages obviously lead with the immense spectacle which preceded it.

April 3: Fireworks just before kick off against Crystal Palace in the first game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
April 3: Fireworks just before kick-off against Crystal Palace in the first game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
April 27: Shane Long of Southampton celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Bournemouth at St Mary’s Stadium.
April 27: Shane Long of Southampton celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Bournemouth at St Mary’s Stadium. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
April 27: Brighton’s keeper Matthew Ryan is challenged by Newcastle’s Yoshinori Muto.
April 27: Brighton’s keeper Matthew Ryan is challenged by Newcastle’s Yoshinori Muto. Photograph: James Boardman/TPI/REX/Shutterstock
April 28: Matthew Lowton of Burnley fails to keep out an effort by Sergio Aguero of Manchester City.
April 28: Matthew Lowton of Burnley fails to keep out an effort by Sergio Agüero of Manchester City. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
April 28: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Burnley.
April 28: Sergio Agüero of Manchester City celebrates his goal at Burnley. Photograph: Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Man City via Getty Images

May

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Vincent Kompany’s unexpected howitzer against Leicester was a pivotal goal in the title race. Yet the strike was so unexpected that almost no photographers were ready for it. To be fair to them, nor were Leicester’s defenders. Kompany hadn’t hit the target from outside the box since 2013 and even his manager and teammates were begging him not to try. The resulting image, seen from the opposite end of the pitch, captures the net bulging. Of course, we would sooner have received better images of the strike itself, but somehow this one of the aftermath – of the moment when City effectively snatched the title – feels quite apt. On the final day of the season, Liverpool fans had 21 minutes of hope as the scores tipped in their favour once more. But ultimately it was Pep Guardiola, not Klopp, who was pictured being thrown into the air in celebration as his side retained the Premier League.

May 4: Crystal Palace player Andros Townsend celebrates after scoring the third goal during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Crystal Palace at Cardiff City Stadium.
May 4: Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend celebrates after scoring their third goal at Cardiff as the home side’s relegation was confirmed. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
May 4: Divock Origi scores the late winning goal for Liverpool in their 3-2 victory at Newcastle.
May 4: Divock Origi scores the late winning goal for Liverpool in their 3-2 victory at Newcastle. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
May 5: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal holds his crotch after a collision against Brighton.
May 5: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal holds his crotch after a collision against Brighton. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
May 5: Isaac Mbenza of Huddersfield celebrates his goal against Manchester United at John Smith’s Stadium.
May 5: Isaac Mbenza of Huddersfield celebrates his goal against Manchester United at John Smith’s Stadium. Photograph: William Early/Getty Images
May 6: Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire battle for the ball.
May 6: Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire battle for the ball. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA
May 6, 2019 Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany scores the match-winning goal against Leicester.
May 6: Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany scores his stunning match-winner against Leicester. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
May 12: Liverpool fans react to false rumours about the score at Manchester City while watching their side face Wolves on the final day.
May 12: Liverpool fans react to false rumours about the score at Manchester City while watching their side face Wolves on the final day. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
May 12: Ilkay Gundogan scores the fourth goal for Manchester City against Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
May 12: İlkay Gündogan scores the fourth goal for Manchester City at Brighton and the title is theirs. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
May 12: Manchester City players throw Pep Guardiola in the air as they celebrate winning the Premier League.
May 12: Manchester City players throw Pep Guardiola in the air as they celebrate winning the Premier League. Photograph: Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Man City via Getty Images