The 2021/22 campaign was another season to remember for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s squad sealing the Premier League title for the fourth time in five years.
A remarkable 3-2 win against Aston Villa on the last day of the season, with City fighting back from 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go, set the seal on a title win that will never be forgotten.
And, as has been the hallmark in our remarkable record of success under Guardiola, City’s latest triumph was once again the result of the collective effort of the entire squad.
To celebrate another achievement to savour we are shining a spotlight on each member of the group in our Champions in focus series and continue today with a look at the contribution of right back Kyle Walker.
Total appearances: 31
Total Goals: 1
Total assists: 2
Premier League appearances: 20
Total cumulative minutes (all competitions): 2648
A byword for consistency and excellence ever since he joined City from Tottenham in the summer of 2017, Walker brought all his experience and talent to bear once again this term.
The only frustration was that injury prevented him from making the total number of appearances he would have liked to.
But time and again, Walker once more demonstrated his all-round ability, awareness, vision and dependability that have been the hallmark of his time at the Club.
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And, arguably, never where those qualities more evident than his display in our ultimately heart-breaking Champions League semi-final second leg clash away to Real Madrid in early May.
Restored to the side after a near month-long lay-off with an ankle injury in such a high-pressure environment, the 32-year-old was simply outstanding at the Bernabeu.
Brave and disciplined in defence, Walker more than stood up to the attacking threat posed by Real danger man Vinicius Junior.
And he was a terrific attacking outlet when City looked to press forward as he served up another magnificent all-round performance that once more epitomised why Walker has become one of the go-to figures in the City back-line under Guardiola.
Sadly, another knock to his ankle saw the England reluctantly forced to make way on 72 minutes with the score still goalless with City going on to ultimately lose out 3-1 after extra time and 6-5 on aggregate.
However, few could argue that of anyone on the pitch in the Spanish capital that night, Walker did not deserve to finish on the losing side.
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Walker’s one goal of the season also came in Europe, during our comprehensive 5-1 group victory away at Club Brugge back in October.
Latching onto Kevin De Bruyne’s precise through ball as he powered into the box, Walker showed great presence of mind the steer the ball home via a deflection off the Brugge keeper to cap what was another superb all-round display.
Kyle’s performance in our 2-1 home group victory against Paris Saint-Germain in November was also eye-catching.
Pitted against a star-studded Paris forward line featuring the iconic trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi, Walker was a formidable bulwark at the back, nullifying a host of PSG’s attacking threats.
He also conjured up a quite brilliant assist as Raheem Sterling brought us back on level terms in the second half.
“Kyle is an important player for us, so important. The level he has shown with us these years has been fantastic.”
That was the definitive verdict of City manager Pep Guardiola when asked to sum up Walker’s immense contribution to the Club last year.
And if anything, Walker’s standing and importance has only been further emphasised over the ensuing 12 months.
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It’s not just on the field that Walker’s impact and influence has been brought to bear.
He’s also a key figure in the City dressing thanks to his experience, know-how and influential voice.
And Walker’s passion, desire and bond with his City team-mates was arguably never better demonstrated than on that seismic final afternoon of the season at home to Villa.
An unused substitute, Walker – like the rest of us – had been looking on anxiously as – at one stage – the prospect of the title slipping away began to gather.
However, the sight of him exploding with joy and then sprinting down the touchline to join in the celebrations with the City fans after Ilkay Gundogan’s late winner was one of the defining images of the day.
It crystalized the joy felt around the Etihad that day and Walker’s passion and commitment to the City cause.
What they said
“Kyle is so consistent and year after year he puts in great performances.
“He has been one of the greatest signings for City in modern history because he rarely gets injured, and he always performs.”
City boss Pep Guardiola was full of praise for Walker ahead of our Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid back in April.