From Ederson to De Bruyne, players who helped City win title

Tottenham's Erik Lamela, left, battles for the ball with Manchester City's Leroy Sane during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, England, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson makes a save during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, England, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates with Kevin De Bruyne, left, and David Silva, right, after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, England, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne vies for the ball with Tottenham's Dele Alli, right, during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, England, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus celebrates with Kevin De Bruyne, right, and David Silva, after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, England, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

MANCHESTER, England — After finishing third in his first season in charge, Pep Guardiola made a few tweaks to his Manchester City squad and delivered a dominant second campaign.

A look at five players who helped City win the Premier League:

DAVID SILVA

Does the Spaniard get the recognition he deserves? In his eight seasons with City, Silva has only once been named the Premier League's player of the month, and only once made the team of the year. Perhaps his problem is that he makes brilliance seem so routine. The 32-year-old Silva's game has been elevated again in this free-flowing City side, with his outstanding eye for a pass and unshakeable control in possession key to Guardiola's system.

KEVIN DE BRUYNE

In 2015, some pundits questioned City's wisdom in paying Wolfsburg 55 million pounds (then $85 million) for a player who struggled previously at Chelsea. Now the 26-year-old Belgian is the best midfielder in the Premier League. If Silva is the magician, De Bruyne is the relentless force — bringing a directness to City's attacking play. He leads the league in assists but the raw numbers do not tell the story of incredible defense-splitting passes which have helped to supply the goals in the title charge.

SERGIO AGUERO

This time last year it seemed conceivable that Aguero would no longer be at City by now. The Argentine forward took time to gel with Guardiola's tactics, which require him to be much more than the predator up front. But in a season when he faced questions over his own future and almost saw yet another rival join in the form of Alexis Sanchez, the 29-year-old Aguero has kept netting goals, breaking City's all-time record along the way.

EDERSON

Guardiola's first City team last season had a number of weaknesses, but the most glaring in that work-in-process was in goal, where Claudio Bravo struggled hugely after joining from Barcelona. Guardiola acted by bringing in Ederson and the difference has been significant. Ederson is not the greatest shot-stopper in the world, but his confidence on the ball has changed the entire feel of City's defense. For all the plaudits they rightly receive going forward, City's players have also conceded the fewest goals at the back, and Ederson is a huge part of the reason why.

LEROY SANE

While Raheem Sterling excels on the right wing, Sane hurtles down the left. Sterling has almost doubled his goal tally from any previous season and scored several crucial late goals in the first half of the season, but Sane has netted nine goals and provided valuable assists. As City's only truly left-sided winger, his absence was notable when injured in February. Sane was slow to settle at first last season has now established himself as a vital part of the squad.

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