Pep Guardiola‘s record-breaking side looked like missing out on an historic win on the south coast before substitute Jesus lobbed home to secure a 1-0 success with almost the final kick of the game.
Struggling Saints knew before kick-off that only a highly unlikely 10-goal swing in goal difference could send them down and a defeat for relegation rivals Swansea meant they were never in serious danger of the drop.
Guardiola’s formidable City side set new records for points gained, goals scored and games won in a Premier League campaign by beating Brighton 3-1 on Wednesday evening.
And they ensured a remarkable season would end on a high as Sunday’s sensational climax ensured those figures became 100, 106 and 32 respectively.
Southampton’s crucial midweek win against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium all but ensured a miserable campaign would not be compounded by dropping into the Championship.
That result helped create a celebratory atmosphere among supporters who have witnessed their team register just four league wins and 20 goals on home turf during a wretched 10 months.
The table doesn’t lie… 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Zh6rEp55T5
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 13, 2018
City controlled first-half possession but Saints, buoyed by the positivity from the stands, almost took an early lead with Dutch defender Wesley Hoedt heading against Claudio Bravo’s crossbar from a Dusan Tadic corner.
With Sergio Aguero still injured and Jesus on the bench, Guardiola deployed Raheem Sterling as a false-nine.
The England forward appeared isolated and struggled to influence proceedings, firing well over with his only sight of goal in the opening 45 minutes.
City are due to celebrate their title success on Monday with an open-top bus parade through the streets of Manchester.
They began the second period camped in the hosts’ half, albeit continuing to lack a goal threat, epitomised by captain Fernandinho somehow volleying against the scoreboard on the top of the stand from 12 yards out.
Guardiola was clearly intent on victory and, after an attacking substitution which saw forward Jesus replace left-back Fabian Delph, Sterling struck the right post with a deflected effort before John Stones’ header from the resultant corner was tipped over by Alex McCarthy.
While City continued to press for an opener, the attacking change left them with a three-man defence and more vulnerable at the back.
Dusan Tadic, who played a prominent role in Saints’ survival with both goals against Bournemouth a fortnight ago, almost took advantage of the extra space, rounding Claudio Bravo twice before his powerful goal-bound effort was blocked on the line by Fernandinho.
Guardiola introduced youngsters Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden late on, ensuring both players have registered five appearances to earn a Premier League medal – with Foden becoming the youngest ever winner at 17 years and 350 days old.
The game appeared to heading for an uneventful draw but, six years to the day since Sergio Aguero’s dramatic winner against QPR, Jesus found space in the final moments to lift the ball over McCarthy and spark mayhem among the travelling fans.
The 68-year-old took charge of his last game in charge of the Gunners as his side recorded a 1-0 victory courtesy of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s first-half goal.
Wenger, whose tenure lasted almost 22 years and took in 1,235 games, was given a rousing reception by both sets of fans in a carnival atmosphere.
Arsenal and Huddersfield fans alike saluted the Frenchman as he walked over to acknowledge the away end before the match, bowing in front of the travelling supporters.
Huddersfield boss David Wagner made a special presentation on behalf of the West Yorkshire club in the tunnel before kick-off, with the players forming a guard of honour as Wenger emerged onto the pitch one last time.
Two planes flew over the John Smith’s Stadium, carrying messages of support for Wenger.
“Merci Arsene, we will miss you too,” one read in response to Wenger’s goodbye speech last week, while the other read: “One Arsene Wenger”.
For 22 years, for 1,235 games, for 49, 49 undefeated, for 7 FA Cups, for 3 @PremierLeague titles, for two Doubles, for winning the league at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane, for Wengerball, for the Invincibles, for your total love and devotion, we want to say… #MerciArsène❤️ pic.twitter.com/xkRXjLAid2
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 13, 2018
Then, after 22 minutes, the entire stadium rose as one to applaud Wenger – marking the length of his reign – with chants of “there’s only one Arsene Wenger” also springing up throughout pockets of the home support as well as the entire away end.
The Frenchman stood up in his technical area to wave back to those who were showing their respects to his achievements.
The game itself was fairly forgettable, Aaron Mooy hitting the crossbar late on as the Terriers came close to denying Wenger a winning finale.
He was unable to offer one final wave to the Arsenal fans because of a pitch invasion, with Huddersfield fans celebrating their top-flight survival which was secured following a midweek draw at Chelsea.
It was an historic day, with many twists and turns – all of them living long in the memory.
Although City’s title triumph was well and truly sealed early doors this season, relive the moment when it went down to a last day finale.